Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.
This week, January 21 to 27, 2019, is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, a campaign spearheaded by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, and supported by other charities, such as The Eve Appeal.
As the Shadow Minister for Public Health, I work closely with charities, health professionals and the public to raise awareness of cancer symptoms, so that cancers can be diagnosed early, in order to improve the effectiveness of treatment.
Cervical cancer is currently one of three cancers that are screened for nationally, along with bowel and breast cancer.
However, cervical cancer screening rates are at their lowest rate for two decades.
Three million women across England have not had a smear test for at least three and a half years.
A survey, published this week by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, found that eight out of ten women said they had delayed a smear test or never gone for a screening because they felt embarrassed.
In November 2018, it was found that more than 40,000 women in England have not received information regarding cervical cancer screening.
We must do better.
Each day, nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and two women lose their lives to the disease.
Seventy-five per cent of cervical cancers can be prevented by smear tests.
It is therefore crucial that women, aged between 25 and 64, firstly know that they are eligible for a smear test, and secondly take up the opportunity to attend.
Most women receive a normal screening test result; but for those that don’t, the results from the screening will provide a gateway to treatment and care.
This is not something women, or men either, should be embarrassed talking about to their families and friends, after all it could save lives.
This Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, I encourage all of my constituents to talk about cervical cancer and smear tests, and the lifesaving benefits of attending appointments.
If you have been invited for a test, don’t delay your booking any longer.
The number of cervical cancer deaths has fallen in recent years, but it remains the most common cancer in women under 35.
If we want to prevent more cancers, we must be open to talking about symptoms and concerns about screening tests.
If you are concerned about cervical cancer, please contact your local GP.