NERVOUSNESS, embarrassment and anxiety are among the reasons almost one in three women don’t attend their routine appointment for a smear test which is a vital check for cervical cancer.

Concern about the procedure is a common cause of ‘Smear fear’ and the theme of national Cervical Screening Awareness Week running until Sunday, which aims to reassure women that they are not alone and offer tips to help overcome those fears.

Dr Steph Edgar, GP and Clinical Lead for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Cancer Alliance, said: “We understand that people invited for a smear test often go through a range of emotions and find reasons not to book or attend for an appointment.

“But there is a wealth of information available about what to expect during the screening procedure and how to prepare for it, not only by talking to your GP or practice nurses, but also by listening and talking to others through support groups, online forums and blogs, to hopefully help quell people’s fears.”

Cervical cancer screening is offered to anyone with a cervix aged 25-64, this includes women, some trans men and some non-binary people who were assigned female at birth.

Screening is key to preventing cervical cancer as it tests cells for human papillomavirus (HPV) which has potential to cause cell changes in the cervix, which may lead to cervical cancer over time. Not all cell changes will develop into cancer, but monitoring any changes, and giving treatment if required is important.

Dr Edgar added: “It’s so important for people to book and keep their appointments when invited as screening helps to save around 5,000 lives a year.”

Macmillan and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust are among the charities giving tips and advice this week about how to prepare for a smear and what to expect.

For more tips and information visit their websites: and

You can also read here about the experiences of one Sheffield woman whose smear test saved her life