Almost 30% of women do not take up the offer of free cancer screening services: despite the fact that the disease accounts for almost a third of deaths here.
Now,the Workers Party’s Joanne Lowry is urging all women between 25 and 64 years of age to take regular cervical smear tests and to attend for breast screening when called.
“Research by the McMillan Cancer organisation and Queens University has shown that the diagnosis of a number of cancers, including cervical cancer, is higher in west Belfast than in other areas of Northern Ireland”, she said.
Social deprivation “People living in socially deprived areas are also 10% more likely to contract cancer than people in more affluent areas”, Joanne said.
“Screening is one way in which cervical and breast cancer can be identified at an early stage. The earlier the detection, the better chance there is of overcoming it.
“Cervical smear tests prevent 75% of diseased cells from developing. These can be lifesaving appointments”, she said
“However, nearly 30% of women miss their screening appointments. The tests are free, they are offered to all women in the „at risk‟ age groups and they can save lives”.
“I would urge all women to go along, have the screening tests and look after their health and well-being”, said Joanne .
Awareness I have been in touch with the Public Health Agency (PHA) to ask them to consider ways of raising awareness amongst local women about the availability and importance of these screenings”,
They have told me that they intent to:
“…raise awareness by highlighting the availability and importance of attending cervical screening and breast screening appointments through the PHA’s social media channels this Autumn and also in the New Year”.
“In addition to this activity they will be promoting the importance of looking out for changes and being aware of symptoms in between screening appointments (breast awareness) through posters which will be distributed to pharmacies and GP surgeries in October”, Joanne concluded