GPs across Berkshire are urging women to rebook cervical cancer tests that were cancelled due to the pandemic.
Doctors surgeries will be inviting patients for an appointment which they stress can stop cancer before it starts.
Dr Kajal Patel, Berkshire West CCG cancer lead, said: “It was unfortunate that during the Covid outbreak the NHS had to pause some services to dedicate itself to caring for patients with the virus.
“However, now the numbers are falling we can turn our attention back to other really important work like cancer screening and I’d urge everyone who is eligible for a test, or had theirs postponed during Covid, to please make an appointment.”
Cervical screening is offered to everyone with a cervix, between the ages of 25 and 64, every three or five years depending on their age.
Two women die from cervical cancer per day in England, and while it’s estimated that cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives each year, screening uptake has been low over the last year or so, with one in four women in the UK not attending their test.
The screening test lasts just a few minutes and regular screening can help stop cervical cancer before it starts by preventing potentially harmful cells from developing.
Dr Patel added: “I know some women are reluctant to go for a test. It could be that they are nervous about what happens, worried in case the test shows up some abnormalities, or it could be for cultural reasons.
“We want to reassure them that the tests are generally straightforward, they’re carried out by very understanding and professional healthcare staff, and they really can be a matter of life and death.”
And to reassure patients who are worried about attending their screening, health officials have drawn up advice to make the experience more comfortable.
This includes talking to your nurse, who are trained and experienced in how to make your test comfortable, and wearing a loose skirt or dress so that you feel more covered during your appointment.