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DIY smear tests: are they the answer to falling cervical screening rates?

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 23 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l361
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. London

Low screening rates and worrying poll results have increased calls to allow UK women to collect their own samples to test for HPV. Jacqui Wise reports

Young women delay or fail to attend cervical screening appointments because of embarrassment and a fear of being hurt, a new survey has found.1 The findings add to growing pressure to increase cervical screening rates by allowing women to collect their own samples that are then tested for human papillomavirus (HPV).

Attendance at cervical smear tests is the lowest in two decades in England and as low as one in two among young women in some areas of the UK. Evidence increasingly shows that self collected samples are as accurate as clinician collected samples, and the Department of Health is currently considering plans to introduce such a scheme.

Fear and embarrassment

The charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust surveyed 2005 respondents aged 25-35 and found that 905 had delayed a test …

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