Sunday, 8 March 2009

This must be Jade's legacy

I was 20 when I was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells. Fortunately they were caught in time, and after laser treatment, I was as good as new.
Since then, however, in England the age for having your first smear test has been raised from 20 to 25. The argument is that there are so many cell changes happening anyway during this five year period that testing can throw up misleading results.
But if that's really the case, why is it only in England that woman are tested from the age of 25? In Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, it's still 20. Are we really to believe that English women are less at risk from contracting cervical cancer, or less able to cope with misleading results, or start having sex later, than our Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh cousins? Of course not.
So the argument that it's not in our interest to be tested from 20 simply doesn't work. I suspect that, like the IVF postcode lottery, it's simply a question of funding.
What we do know is that in Jade's case, her cancer was, for various reasons, missed - until it was too late. Whether or not it would have been caught had she had a smear test earlier, which might have revealed cell changes, it's impossible to say.
But if there is even a chance, however small, that a young woman's life might be saved by early screening, then surely it's a chance worth taking.

1 comment:

  1. I 100% agree with you, but I also think women have to take more responsibility for their health - just like you and Jade did - and actually get tested. The number of women who simply ignore their screening letter is just scary - it's apparently 40% in some parts of the country. And as a 30-something women, I can't believe how many of my smart, educated friends have never actually gone for their test. One openly claimed she was too embarassed - despite the fact that her bikini line is of the Brazillian kind. So, yes, while the government must do more, so must us women.