Young woman are avoiding smear tests because they are embarrassed about their bodies.
The stark warning came from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. The trust’s survey revealed that one in three 25-29 year olds were refusing tests because of a negative body image.
This was in contrast to one in four eligible women aged 25-64 not getting tested.
Concerns younger women had included not having a good body shape (35%). They also included having an odd looking vulva (34%) and not smelling ‘normally’ (38%). Some of them were even avoiding smear tests because they hadn’t waxed or shaved their bikini areas.
Lindsay, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at 29. After ignoring invitations for a smear test, has called out to these women.
‘I was too busy with a baby and a small child, working. I didn’t like the thought of having to get naked in front of anyone I didn’t know.
‘I don’t want other women to have to go through what I experienced, diagnosis and treatment was awful.
‘Please don’t put off your smear test, the alternative is so much worse.’
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust was concerned authorities were not doing enough to encourage women to get tested. It revealed the majority of women (94%) said they would get tested if it was free.
The charity’s chief executive, Robert Music, added: ‘Smear tests prevent 75% of cervical cancers. So it is a big worry that so many young women, those who are most at risk of the disease, are unaware of the importance of attending.
‘It is of further concern that body worries are contributing to non-attendance.
‘Please don’t let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending what could be a life-saving test.’
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35. With around 1,000 women dying from the disease every year in the UK.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust released the data, which had information from 2,017 women.
The data was released at the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, alongside its smear test campaign launch – #SmearForSmear.