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Women failing to attend smear tests

(657 Posts)
guardianfree Mon 22-Jan-18 13:34:22

Women generally but young women in particular - 1 in 3 not attending.

I know they're unpleasant (and often feel humiliating) but what can we do to reassure women that they can be life savers?

mummyhaschangedhername Mon 22-Jan-18 13:37:17

Make it easier to book one. My last practice, I would call up and they would say they were full for 2 week and to call again in 2 weeks which I would do and the process would continue. It took months and a lot of wasted time trying to get through to the practice which would take an hour in average. I didn't have that sort of time to waste.

Alienspaceship Mon 22-Jan-18 13:41:24

They’re not as important as you think. To detect the aggressive cancers that women die of requires a smear every 3-6 months. This is too expensive and unmanageable for the NHS. Every three years is a hit and miss approach.

grasspigeons Mon 22-Jan-18 13:42:13

what do the breast screening programme do?
Everyone seems to go for those

guardianfree Mon 22-Jan-18 13:43:20

Agreed Mummy - When you're working full time, finding time for any level of personal care can be difficult.

ThisIsAStory Mon 22-Jan-18 13:44:25

Educate on the risk factors. Educate girls on their biology so they KNOW what a scrape on a cervix is (I mean who gets that from 'smear' anyway). And yes, yes yes re booking ease - especially since it has to be done within a window of the cycle. Combine that with some women not having such a regular cycle and some practices awkward booking options and even quite a determined woman can be defeated.

guardianfree Mon 22-Jan-18 13:44:48

Do you have any statistics about this? I'd happily never have another smear test if I thought they were unimportant!

GetDownDog Mon 22-Jan-18 13:46:01

There was a long thread about smears in AIBU.
Smears only test for HPV (iirc) so it’s possible to have cervical cancer and it not be picked up by a smear test.
I do know some younger women who refuse to go, and put it down to anxiety of the procedure.

mummyhaschangedhername Mon 22-Jan-18 13:46:51

Grass pigeons - I think because the appointments are pre made for you and in advance. It's much more likely you will attend an appointment given to you then make an appointment. Especially if not as easy as just ringing up. Plus people are probably less embarrassed by their breast being exposed. Also it's involved a smaller proportion of the population, not sure when breast screening kicks in but it's probably on the later years of our working lives, rather a time your juggling work, kids and everything else.

Thistlebelle Mon 22-Jan-18 13:49:54

Our local GPs have an evening nurse session until 8pm. This makes it considerably easier to attend as you don’t need to take time off.

guardianfree Mon 22-Jan-18 13:52:41

Now that's sensible - they've obviously listened to patients, including women!

Thistlebelle Mon 22-Jan-18 13:55:00

I thought it was an excellent idea! It’s one evening a week and you can see the nurse for anything (not just smears) but the waiting room is usually filled with women.

Parsleyisntfood Mon 22-Jan-18 13:57:31

The breast screening program is a dedicated service as well. You’re not trying to fit in round other clinics.
It takes me honestly a year to book a smear. At least a week a month where I can’t go, then needing time off work, then being able to get an appointment.
And you cannot under estimate the skill of the practitioner, some are 2 mins in and out but sometimes honestly it’s 30 painful minutes with some judgement thrown in.
I’ve mentioned on here before but when they say they can’t find my cervix I never know what I’m supposed to say! I definitely brought it with me!

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 22-Jan-18 13:59:26

I just watched a thing on the BBC - apparently it's not finding the time, it's being embarrassed about having not waxed the bikini line, or about any possible smell.

grasspigeons Mon 22-Jan-18 14:01:55

hmm - so a dedicated services, with skilled practitioners and an invitation to attend - perhs with a suggested time frame and a follow up call if you don't book with weekend/evening options so people don't have to try get out of work.
can the environment be nice and supportive with a biscuit for after as well.

sashh Mon 22-Jan-18 14:04:16

what do the breast screening programme do?

I think by the time you get to screening age you know someone or of someone who has had breast cancer.

I went for my first last year, both my mum and grandmother have died from breast cancer.

joystir59 Mon 22-Jan-18 14:04:44

I won't go for smears or mammograms. Both are painful and I'm not convinced they are necessary. I would go as far as to say that I think the mammogram could damage breast tissue.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 22-Jan-18 14:06:03

The charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust surveyed 2,017 British women

A third said embarrassment caused them to delay getting a smear test

The survey found young women are embarrassed to attend smear tests because of their body shape (35%), the appearance of their vulva (34%) and concerns over smell (38%)

UpstartCrow Mon 22-Jan-18 14:06:19

What can we do?
Tell women they can book a female nurse for the test, and dont tell them they are unimportant ffs.

debbs77 Mon 22-Jan-18 14:07:04

I was refused an extra smear test and actually told off when I got there for booking one, despite worrying symptoms!

anon989 Mon 22-Jan-18 14:08:04

Being only 27 and knowing two people from my school year who have undergone cancer treatment as a result of detections from their smears, one that came scarily close to not making it and leaving behind two gorgeous kids, I have no idea why anyone doesn't attend?!

EggsonHeads Mon 22-Jan-18 14:09:54

Teach more about risk factors and make the process more pleasant.I don't have any risk factors so I wouldn't be willing to deal with the laborious booking process, inconvenient appointment times offered, regular delayed appointments, surly reception staff and, dirty crowded surgery.

Elendon Mon 22-Jan-18 14:10:18

I've not gone for a breast cancer screening and have asked to be taken out of the system.

My mother didn't. She's 92.

My sister did and had the scare of her life. Went private and it was all nothing. She no longer goes for breast cancer screening.

I was diligent in getting a smear test. But I do now question its value given that young women have had the vaccine.

Batteriesallgone Mon 22-Jan-18 14:14:16

My last one was awful. The nurse was so rough. And her expression was of absolute disgust. I was freshly showered etc so don’t know what else I could have done to be acceptable - maybe she didn’t like my pubic hair. She really hurt my vagina near my scar from childbirth.

Sadly this kind of treatment doesn’t seem all that uncommon. Most women I’ve talked to about it have at least one story of a painful smear made painful by the practitioner not the procedure IYSWIM.

Women will continue to worry about them as long as the chance of being hurt and mistreated is there (and not remote).

ScreamingValenta Mon 22-Jan-18 14:14:30

Second the advice to make them easier to book. I suffered from very erratic periods, so having to book one in three weeks' time meant I couldn't be sure whether I would be able to have it; I would then have to cancel and rebook for yet another uncertain date. If the wait time had been even one week it would have been more manageable. Thank goodness I no longer have a cervix.

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