Across the UK 22% of women fail to turn up for cervical screening (or smear test), according to figures from the NHS Screening programme, rising to one in three of 25-29 year olds.
The smear test involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix which is then examined for cancerous abnormalities. Regular screening provides a high degree of protection from cervical cancer.
Screening is not a test to find cancer. It detects abnormalities at an early stage so that preventative action can be taken. Without screening about one in 60 women will develop cervical cancer. Screening can prevent the cancer developing in around seven out of 10 cases.
How often you are invited for screening (ladies only!) depends where you live:
• England, Wales and N Ireland
Women aged 25-49 every 3 years
Women aged 50-64 every 5 years
Women aged 20-60 every 3 years
If you have missed a test recently see you GP. If you get summoned, please go! To find out more about cervical cancer go to http://www.jostrust.org.uk/