Milton Keynes below national target for uptake of cervical screening

Wednesday 22 January 2020


  • Cervical screening (a smear test) saves around 5,000 lives each year in the UK
  • Cervical screening can identify high-risk HPV virus and cell changes early, before cancer develops
  • 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented through screening

The proportion of women attending for cervical screening in Milton Keynes is below the national target and uptake has dropped significantly over the last 20 years. 

As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (20 -26 January 2020), Milton Keynes Council and NHS Milton Keynes CCG are encouraging those due a screening test or who have missed previous invitations to contact their practice.

National data suggests that women aged 25-34, women from ethnic minorities, lesbian and bisexual women and Trans men are less likely to attend for screening when invited.

During cervical screening, a nurse takes a sample of cells from the cervix using a small, soft brush.  This can be uncomfortable but is quick and usually not painful.  If you would like to have a screening test but are anxious about what it involves, Jo’s Trust provide helpful tips:

Across the UK, cervical screening is changing to test for high-risk HPV first.  HPV is a common virus that 8 in 10 people will get.  It usually goes away without causing any problems but sometimes causes cells to change which, if not treated, could develop into cervical cancer.  Almost all cervical cancers are linked to high-risk HPV.  By knowing who has high-risk HPV, the virus can be monitored and any cell changes can be identified early, before they potentially develop into cervical cancer.

Cllr Hannah O’Neill said: “Cervical cancer is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the introduction of HPV vaccination for young people.  Unfortunately, screening uptake nationally and in Milton Keynes has dropped significantly over the last 20 years.  Some people may be anxious about the test or believe it to be unnecessary but please speak to someone about your concerns and don’t just ignore your cervical screening invite.”

Director of Public Health Muriel Scott highlighted that: “In Milton Keynes the most recent data shows cervical screening uptake is 69.8% among women aged 25-49 years and 75.7% among women aged 50-64 years. These rates are well below the national target of 80%, meaning we are missing opportunities to catch cancer before it starts.”

Cervical screening is a free health test available on the NHS.  Ring your GP practice to make an appointment if your screening test is due or if you have missed previous invitations.

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