Research shows that a new painless test for smears doubles women’s attendance at appointments.
The 65-plus population accounts for half of all cervical cancer deaths in the UK. This is compared to the 850 who die from it annually.
These women were likely to have avoided the smear test, which would have saved their cancer.
The study revealed that women 50-64 years old are more likely than ever to have a smear with a swab. It avoids the painful speculum.
About half the deaths due to cervical cancer in the UK, which affects about 850 women per year, occur among people 65 years and older
This study focused on women who hadn’t responded to previous invitations for screening. It offered two options.
You can do the test yourself at home. If you are worried about doing something wrong, a physician will take your swab in a clinic.
Of the 393 women offered, 31 percent attended screenings for cervical cancer in 2012.
This was almost twice the number of older women who volunteered for the screening program.
Only one type of NHS smear testing is currently offered. This involves using a speculum to extract cells from the cervical cavity and determine whether they are precancerous.
The study authors hope that women will be able to have swabs at their homes or in clinics within the next three-years, if there is more evidence.
This study focused on women who hadn’t responded to previous invitations for screening. It offered two options to them.
It is possible due to the fact that since 2019, medical professionals have looked first for HPV, the main cause of cervical carcinoma. This can be done with a simple swab. In high-risk HPV cases, cells from the cervix can only be examined with a speculum.
Dr Anita Wey Lim, who led the study from King’s College London, said: ‘In cervical screening, the speculum can be a real source of fear and embarrassment for women.
‘This is a real concern because under-screened women are at the highest risk of getting cervical cancer.
‘Self-sampling has been hailed as a game-changer for cervical screening, but the solution isn’t just about screening at home – having a doctor or nurse take a sample without a speculum gives women even more choice to feel comfortable about getting checked.’
It is believed that around 25% of UK women between 50 and 64 ignore the invitations for smear testing. This is despite approximately 600 cases per year of cervical cancer in women 65 years and older.
The pain associated with cervical screening by speculum increases as women age and especially after menopause.
This study was published in The British Journal of General Practice. It found that nearly two-thirds of the people who test themselves at home were not confident about the accuracy of the result. Studies however show this method works.
28% of those who opted for a doctor to perform a smear without using a scope said that it was crucial that a physician did it.