When last did you go for a pap-smear?

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Women are being urged to understand the symptoms of cervical cancer and undergo regular screenings.

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UK's Cervical Cancer Trust has found that the number of women attending potentially life-saving cervical screening tests is falling. The research, obtained by a series of Freedom of Information requests sent to every local authority, found that over 1.12 million women did not attend a cervical screening test in the last year. Thousands of women world wide are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages. If you do have symptoms, the most common is unusual vaginal bleeding, which can occur after sex, in between periods or after the menopause. Abnormal bleeding doesn't mean that you definitely have cervical cancer, but it should be investigated by your doctor as soon as possible. Cervical cancer can affect women of all ages but affects women primarily 30 – 45 years of age.

What is a cervical cancer screening?

Cervical screening isn't a test for cancer; it's a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women's test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. The screening test, previously known as a smear test, is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix, and involves a doctor or nurse using a small brush to gently collect some cells from the surface of your cervix, the entrance to the womb from the vagina.

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