A new campaign to highlight the importance of having a smear test is coming to the district, as tomorrow marks the start of cervical cancer prevention week.

The campaign will target women aged 25 to 34 across Bradford and Airedale to encourage them to go for a smear test when invited. It is also calling on the mothers of the women being targeted to encourage their daughters to take the test.

Every year in the UK, about 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly 1,000 women will die from the disease, making it the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under.

However, cervical cancer is largely preventable through cervical screening, commonly known as a smear test, which allows detection of any early changes of the cervix. Girls are also encouraged to have the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination offered in year eight as it protects against 70 per cent of all cervical cancers.

Since it started more than 20 years ago, the NHS cervical screening programme has been highly successful, saving an estimated 4,500 lives every year. However, in Yorkshire a fifth of women still do not attend for screening on a regular basis.

Arshad Hussain, acting screening co-ordinator and senior public health manager for NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds, said: “Women can sometimes be put off attending a test because they may feel uncomfortable, or they may be worried about the outcome of the test. However, it really is the best way to prevent cancer before it develops.

“We’re asking the close relatives of the women we’re targeting – primarily mothers, but also aunts, sisters and cousins – to encourage them to take the test. Their support can positively influence their loved ones and ensure the best possible wellbeing for them.

“This advertising campaign has been designed to help women better understand the importance of attending an appointment when they are invited and also explain to women that, although they may feel uncomfortable, the test could be a lifesaver.

“Having a smear test takes just a few minutes. Women have the choice of a female doctor or nurse, and they can also bring a friend for support if they wish.

“The test can detect any abnormalities or changes in the cervix which, if left untreated, could lead to cervical cancer.”