A campaign aimed at encouraging more women to attend their smear tests has launched today.
In line with Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is hosting #SmearForSmear - an award-winning selfie campaign which calls for more women to attend routine cervical screenings, and increase awareness of the damage cervical cancer can cause.
It runs from today until January 28 - and we want to see your awareness selfies.
Figures released by the charity have revealed that more than a quarter of young women are too embarrassed to attend smear tests and 70% don’t think they reduce a woman’s risk of cervical cancer, according to new research.
In recent weeks, families across the North East and beyond have been touched by the story of 25-year-old Amber Rose Cliff, from Sunderland, who died from cervical cancer earlier this month.
Currently, women are invited for cervical screenings when they turn 25. But Amber had been battling the disease for four years, and her cancer was discovered after she went for a private smear test.
Amber’s brother Josh, 27, said: “I do think people need to understand that if you have the opportunity to have a smear you need to take it, because a lot of people aren’t even getting that opportunity.
“Make sure you go for it and if you are not happy with your symptoms, don’t sit back. Push and push and make sure you get the test.”
A ball is being organised in Amber Rose’s memory to raise awareness of Amber’s Law, and money to help those who cannot afford private smear tests.
Josh says Amber’s Ball – held at the Roker Hotel on March 17 – will be all out glitz and glamour in the true style of his little sister.
Tables of 10 cost £500 and include a three-course meal and entertainment. There will also be a charity auction and raffle.
For tickets, send a message via www.facebook.com/amberslaw/
Jo's Trust is working to raise awareness of the importance of attending potentially life-saving smear tests - and this week, they're calling for your help in spreading this message.
Of the women surveyed, more than half said they delayed or did not attend a smear test, with 24% admitting they have delayed for over one year.
Almost one in 10 never even attended the test.
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Smear tests prevent 75% of cervical cancers from developing, yet over 220,000 of the 25-29 year olds invited for a smear test in England in the last year did not attend.
"Every woman is invited for a smear test from the age of 25 and this test can literally save a life. We want to ensure smear tests are not something women are ashamed or scared of talking about, or do not think are important to attend.”
Almost three quarters of the 25-29 year olds surveyed for the research admitted that they do not feel comfortable getting undressed in front of doctors or nurses - and just under one in 10 would consider surgery to alter the way their genitals look.
Jo's Trust is concerned that anxiety over external appearance may be stopping women from putting their health first and increasing their risk of life-threatening cervical cancer.
Have you attended your routine smear test yet?
Show us your #SmearForSmear awareness selfies
Apply that lipstick, smear away, get snapping and share your pictures with us on social media using #SmearForSmear. We'll share as many pictures as we can throughout the week. You can share them with us on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag and tagging us in.