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Many black women see smear tests as unnecessary

CAMPAIGN AIM: Campaigners want to see more ethnic minority women getting screened for cervical cancer

CONCERNED OFFICIALS have launched an awareness campaign following research showing some ethnic minority women are putting themselves at risk for cervical cancer because they do not see getting a smear test as relevant.

The screening is seen as a vital way to prevent cervical cancer, but as the UK marked Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Week (July 2-8), campaigners lamented that 12 percent of ethnic minority women polled have never attended a cervical screening appointment.

The research of 1179 white women and 1177 BME women aged 20-65, commissioned by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, showed that more than 40 percent of ethnic minority women aged 55 to 65 do not think cervical cancer screening is a necessary health test.

In a statement, the Trust also said: "Similarly of those invited for screening, four times as many BME women as white women said ‘it did not seem relevant to me’."

To combat these bleak figures, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and the National Health Service’s (NHS) National Cancer Action Team (NCAT) have launched an advert that aims to ‘increase cancer screening uptake and raise awareness of the early signs of cancer amongst people from black and minority ethnic communities.’

The Cancer does not discriminate campaign advert will run in 30 GP surgeries for five months in areas such as London, Leicester, Leeds and Nottingham, which have larger BME populations.

A smear test checks cells from the cervix to see whether there are any pre-cancerous abnormalities.

Research results also showed 43 percent of BME women wanted more detailed explanations of the risks of not being screened.

Robert Music, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s director, said: "Our survey highlighted that in all areas of questioning BME women were considerably less aware of the issues surrounding cervical cancer prevention compared to white women and this alerted us to a need for a more targeted awareness drive amongst ethnic communities.

"With the cervical screening programme saving 5,000 lives in the UK each year, this lack of knowledge means BME women are less likely to attend their screening test putting their lives at risk."

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