The Rt. Hon Steve Barclay M.P
Secretary of State for
Health & Social Care
St Margaret’s Street
OUR REF: RES 2 HEAD OFFICE
Date as postmark:
Dear Government Minister
THIS ASSOCIATION IN CONFERENCE ASSEMBLED URGES HIS MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT TO KEEP CERVICAL SCREENING TO 3 YEARS AND NOT EXTENDED TO 5 YEARS.
From the 1st January 2022 if you are aged 25-49 in Wales routine screening has changed from 3 years to 5 years. In England routine screening starts at 25 and is then every 3 years to the age of 49 when it changes to every 5 years, that means an additional 2 years between screening with potentially seeing further deaths from cervical cancer.
On average 3197 cases of cervical cancer are discovered each year with 854 deaths between 2016-2018, and only 51% surviving this type of cancer for more than 10 years. 99.8% of cervical cancer cases are preventable according to Cancer Research UK, therefore increasing the length of time between screening is putting lives at risk.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer itself of course, but it’s a test to help prevent cancer, and therefore is of paramount importance. Screening checks a sample of cells from the cervix for certain types of cells know as HPV, human papillomavirus, this virus is passed on very easily through sexual contact, it has no symptoms so most women wouldn’t know they have it. Usually the body fights the virus off, but in some cases this isn’t possible and the virus persists, these can cause abnormal changes to the cells and are called high risk types of HPV, if these abnormal cells are not treated they may turn into cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is reported as developing very slowly, and it is estimated to take between 10 and 20 years for the HPV infection to develop into abnormal cervical cells. Screening stops at the age of 65 because it is deemed that you are unlikely to get cervical cancer, meaning ladies that after the age of 65 they assume that you don’t have a intimate relationship with your partner because HPV comes from intimate contact, if the last three screening are negative then as it stands you will no longer be called for a test.
Testaments of two people in relation to this subject and to support our resolution are noted here:
5th January 2022. Cathy Ackroyd, who is a personal friend of one of our members.
“5 years is too long. In 2.5 years I went from 0 to grade 3 the highest pre cancerous cells, lucky for me this was treated before it turned nasty and I am still hear to tell the tale 5 years later, can you imagine what would have happened if I went another 2.5 years?” ( Cathy then went onto having a full hysterectomy because it left her with so many problems, and this was a young lady who wanted a family, it never happened, but she is still here to campaign for this cause. )
18th June 2022. ( An unnamed gentleman ) I have worked in Cellular Pathology for 13 years. I see on a daily basis the scary amount of cervical cancer and related cervical diseases that affect massive numbers of women. The screening program is extremely important to identify cancer cases early and the difference and changes that can happen between a 3 to 5 year smear check are huge and potentially save women’s lives.
Both have signed the recent petition for the screening to be kept at 3 years.
We await your response on this issue with interest.
National Association of Women’s Clubs