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​Cervical cancer screenings (smear tests) save lives

Less than 1 in 3 eligible females with a learning disability had theirs during 2015-16

Recent data collected from over half of GP practices in England in 2014-15 and 2015-16, to identify potential differences in the treatment, health status, and outcomes of people with learning disabilities compared with the rest of the population, found that very few women with a learning disability attend cervical screening, far less than other women, even though it can save their life. In fact, people with learning disabilities are 45% less likely to be screened for cancer compared to their counterparts without learning disabilities.


There are lots of reasons why; fear, embarrassment, not knowing enough about the test, and some carers and health care professionals think women with learning disabilities do not need one. Do not let these reasons get in the way and hear why cervical screening is so important from real women of all ages (video).


Women 25 and over are invited to cervical screening to check for any changes down below. All women whether they are in a relationship and having sex or not, should attend when invited or talk to their doctor about being checked to stay healthy down below.


The test does not look for cancer it checks for changes. Some changes down below (in the cervix) can become cancer. This sort of cancer is called cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer can be prevented if the changes are found early enough so get checked or encourage the person you care for to attend from 25 onwards. Women can have a smear test every 3 years between 25 and 49. Over 50’s can go every 5 years.


The doctor or nurse will be happy to talk about the screening, why it is important and what to expect. Lots of women take a friend, family member or carer with them for support on the day.


Attending a smear test when invited can save your life or your loved ones life. Do not let embarrassment get in the way and find out more about the test by reading the having a smear test leaflet or watch the smear test film (video).