MORE than a third of women are missing cervical screenings that could help prevent cancer.

Figures show women across Brighton and Hove are skipping the procedures, with a cancer trust claiming fear, embarrassment and a lack of understanding of what they involve among the reasons why.

Screenings, also known as “smear tests”, are offered to people with a cervix aged 25 to 49 every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 receive their invitations every five years.

A small sample of cells is taken and checked for pre-cancerous abnormalities.

However, only 64 per cent of the 90,055 patients in Brighton and Hove eligible for a smear test by the end of 2021 attended a screening and had a clear result, according to NHS data - down from 65 per cent at the end of 2020 and 68 per cent in December 2019.

Rates varied between age groups, with 72 per cent of eligible 50 to 64-year-olds being screened, compared to 61 per cent among 25 to 49-year-olds.

Dr Jo Thomson, primary care lead for Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance and Cancer Research UK GP, said: “Screening take just a few minutes and it means that any abnormal cells can be treated quickly before they potentially develop into cancer.

“We know that it can feel embarrassing or feel like something that you can easily put off, but we are calling on all women not to ignore your invitation - accepting your invite and getting checked could save your life.

“Please do speak to your GP practice about any concerns you might have - we are here to help you.”

Across England, 70 per cent of eligible women had an adequate screening by the end of 2021, against a national target of 80 per cent.

Samantha Dixon, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “There is no one reason behind falling from cervical screening attendance, instead a wide range of factors exist.

“These include NHS pressures, fear, embarrassment and not knowing what the test is for or thinking it is irrelevant.”

Around 2,700 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year and approximately 690 women die from the disease.