Women from ethnic minorities backgounds are at greater risk of developing cervical cancer, according to a report published today.
Findings in the study by health think-tank Demos revealed 23 per cent of black, minority ethnic women admitted they had never attended a screening appointment – compared to 14 per cent of white British women.
The report supported by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said the number was even higher among first generation immigrant women – in a study of South Asian women, a third of those who had been born overseas had never been screened.
The results of the study have been released to co-incide with the start of Cervical Screening Awareness Week.
Latest figures show about 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and it is the most common form of cancer in the UK in women under 35.
In January this year the Telegraph & Argus reported that four in ten women aged 25 to 49 had not been scanned for cervical cancer in the area covered by the Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group in the last three-and-a-half years – by far the worst record in West Yorkshire.
The screening rate over the last five-and-half years in Bradford City CCG for women aged between 25 and 64 was slightly better at 62.8 per cent.
The new Demos study has suggested the NHS could save £10 million a year by increasing cervical screening uptake.
In addition, the figures show a 100 per cent screening rate would almost halve the number of women facing cervical cancer and also save 1,176 lives over a five-year period.
The NHS spends more than £21m a year treating cervical cancer patients, with the most expensive procedures often reserved for those with the most advanced cancers.
A poll of almost 200 women across two NHS Trusts who had refused invitations for a smear test found the most common reason was embarrassment while one in six women said they were too busy or did not have the time.
Shirley Brierley, consultant in public health for Bradford Council, said: “It’s very important younger women eligible for the screenings attend. Those aged 25 to 34 are most likely to be unsure whether they need to attend.
“Yet one of the largest spikes in incidence rates for cervical cancer is women in their early 30s. Cervical cancer is unusual because rates don’t just increase with age.
“Cervical screening is not a test for cancer but is a method of preventing cancer by detecting and treating early abnormalities which can prevent the disease before it gets started.”