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10 June 2013, 16:45
A Middlesbrough woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer after missing her first screening is urging others to get tested.
Latest figures show an increase in the number of young women ignoring invites to have their first cervical smear test.
The UK's only dedicated cervical cancer charity, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, is urging women to have regular cervical screening tests.
Figures show only 63% of younger women, aged 25-29 attended a screening in 2012.
Cancer is the most common cancer for women under 35.
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is using Cervical Screening Awareness Week (June 9th -15th) to launch a nationwide campaign to encourage women to have regular screening tests.
Cervical cancer is predominantly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can be caught as soon as you start having intimate relationships.
Typically cervical cancer is a slow growing cancer and can take over ten years to develop, therefore women who have not been sexually active for some time may still be at risk.
In the majority of cases cervical cancer is symptomless and screening plays a vital role in catching it at an early stage and improving survival rates.
Around three women in the UK die each day from cervical cancer and over 300,000 women a year are told they may have a cervical abnormality that could require treatment.
28 year old Leanne Sewell moved house from the Isle of Man back to Middlesborough around the time she turned 25 and hadn't registered with a doctor so never received her invitation to my new address.
She then started to experience symptoms of cervical cancer 4 months later and on visiting the doctor was given a screening.
She was diagnosed with cervical cancer but was able to have treatment which successfully removed the cancerous cells.
Leanne told Capital:
"It was a shock, but had I not noticed symptoms and I'd not got screened, it was already cancer by the time I was 26, so had I left it that extra few months like a lot girls do, god forbid the position I would be in now."
Research by the charity has shown that younger women are embarrassed, fear the procedure after finding a previous test painful or find it difficult to book an appointment due to a busy working schedule.
"You've got to calm yourself down and look at the bigger picture.
For 30 seconds of being a little bit embarrassed about it you could be saving your own life. I think that's the thing people need to focus on."