On-the-spot smear tests should be offered by GPs

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A new study has shown that women should be offered immediate smear tests when they visit their GP for a regular consultation.

In the UK, females between the ages of 25 and 65 are offered a regular cervical cancer screening test every three years. A smear test is also able to detect if there are pre-cancerous cells, which makes it a very effective preventative aid.

The recommendation has been made by Demos, the think tank, along with the charity, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Demos’ Jo Salter said that doctors are vital in tacking this problem as they are the ones who ask females to be screened. However there is often a barrier in this facility because it is not possible to get an appointment or the GP simply ignores requests.

It has been revealed that around 3000 females are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, of which 900 will die.

In the UK, cervical cancer is in third place on the list of common gynaecological cancers.

At present, only 78% of women eligible for the test undergo it, but if there was to be a 100% screening rate, the number of diagnoses with the cancer would be reduced by 50%.

GPs who are already pressured for time are unable to fit this into one appointment slot.

Dr David Lloyd, based at the Ridgeway Surgery, Harrow, said in an appointment that lasts 10 minutes, doctors have to consider the problem that prompted the consultation and if the patient had not had a smear recently, the practitioner would have to discuss the issue with the patient. He said that some women may not want to undergo a smear at that point as it takes longer than having your blood pressure taken.

Busy lives, pain from the test and embarrassment has been provided as the main reasons why women avoid screening tests.

Image Credit: Ed Uthman

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