Smear for Smear

Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35. Smear tests are important. Today, Sunday 25th January marks the start of a campaign to raise awareness, Smear for Smear, in conjunction with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week starts today. The Smear for Smear campaign is simple enough – put on some lipstick, and smear it, take a picture and upload it to whichever social media channel you choose, using the hashtag #smearforsmear – and tag some friends. (disclaimer : I’m not taking part in the photo, but I am doing my bit in spreading the word)

You see, regular smear tests are important. Cervical Cancer is one of the few cancers which can be prevented. 1 in 3 women between the ages of 23-29 do not take up their smear test invitation. Nine women are diagnosed every day.

My mum had cervical cancer. She had a hysterectomy and is still with us. Smear tests are important, and I know I need to help spread the word.

Here’s the press release :

Smear campaign against cervical cancer launches as over one million women fail to attend screening

  • 1 in 3 young women aged 25-29 fail to attend screening when invited
  • Over a quarter of young women delay screening because they worry the test will be painful or embarrassing
  • 20% of young women think cervical screening is an unnecessary health test

The UK’s only dedicated cervical cancer charity is calling on women (and men) to join #smearforsmear – a campaign which aims to help reverse the downward trend in numbers of women attending their smear test (cervical screening) and in so doing stop the rise in numbers of women diagnosed with the disease.

Launched at the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (CCPW, 25th – 31st January 2015), Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is asking the public to smear lipstick across their face, snap a picture for social media and remind their friends of the importance of smear tests.

Currently in the UK 1 in 5 women fail to attend screening when invited – a test that detects abnormal cells on the cervix before they develop into cancer – and this number rises to 1 in 3 for young women aged 25-29 who are the first age group to be invited. In fact 36.7%[1] of 25-29 year olds in England failed to attend screening when invited last year. Worryingly the most recent figures in numbers diagnosed show a rise from 352 cases in 2010 to 427 cases reported in the UK in 2011.

A survey[2] by the charity has revealed some of the reasons young women give for delaying attendance include seeing cervical screening as an unnecessary health test (20%), concerns it would be painful (26.2%) and embarrassing (26.6%).

The charity is also concerned about the general lack of knowledge surrounding the test amongst younger women. Over half (56%) of this age group didn’t identify the cause of the disease as the human papillomavirus (HPV). One in ten thought it was a test for sexually transmitted infections and 13.5% thought it was a test for Ovarian cancer. Giving a voice to cervical cancer prevention is also vital as 48% said they never openly discuss smear tests with their friends or family.

Robert Music, Chief Executive for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “Every day we see the devastating impact a cervical cancer diagnosis can have on both a woman and her loved ones. But to know that for those that delayed their screening before diagnosis, this could have been prevented, is tragic. It’s now time that we see a shift in awareness of cervical cancer and an understanding of the importance of smear tests.

“We hope the public get fully behind this fun and simple campaign. The more women who take this life saving five minute test, the fewer who will face infertility, early menopause, more extensive long term effects and potentially even loss of life. It’s time we all acted as it may just save a life.”

How to share your lipstick smear:

  1. Apply your lipstick, smear it across your cheek and take a photo
  2. Tag #smearforsmear and @JoTrust in your message.
  3. Add the names of the people you want to nominate
  4. Post onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
  5. For more info on the campaign visit: Jo’s Campaign (this is last year’s link)

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (www.jostrust.org.uk) is the UK’s only dedicated charity offering support and information to women of all ages and their loved ones affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. The National Helpline is on 0808 802 8000.

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