A DOCTOR is encouraging women to book their smear test as recent statistics show that the number of women attending appointments is at a 20-year low.

The importance of cervical screening (commonly known as a smear test) is being stressed thrughout this week, which is the national Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35. In Barnsley, between those aged 25 and 49, only around 74% take up their invite for a smear test.

Dr Nick Balac, GP and Chair of NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Having a smear test is hugely important as early detection of any abnormalities within the cervix can lead to a better chance of successful treatment.

“Women who don’t attend their appointments are the most vulnerable in developing more serious complications. Usually there are no symptoms with cervical cancer, so it is only by having a smear test that any abnormal cells within the cervix can be found before they develop into cancer.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to urge all ladies from Barnsley to take up their all-important cervical screening appointment, for five minutes out of your day – it could save your life.“

All women between the ages of 25 and 64 are eligible for a free cervical screening test every three to five years.

If you are aged between 25 and 49 you will receive an appointment every three years, aged between 50 and 64 every five years and if you are above 65 you will only be screened if you haven’t had a smear test since the age of 50 or have had recent abnormal tests.

Women who have missed their cervical screening appointment are encouraged to contact their local GP to book an appointment.