Cervical cancer screening age limit 'should be lowered'

Calley Duck-Bingham
Image caption Calley Duck-Bingham says she gets 'cross' with her friends for not going to their smear tests

A cervical cancer survivor is calling for the age limit of screening to be lowered, after she was refused the test for several years because she was too young.

Calley Duck-Bingham, 27, from Somerset was just 19 when she first flagged up symptoms to her doctors.

The cancer spread to her lymph nodes and at 25 she had a hysterectomy.

Public Health England said routine screenings for under-25s would "do more harm than good".

The latest national figures suggest the number of women taking up the test is at a 20-year low.

Ms Duck-Bingham, a mother-of-three who lives in Meare, near Glastonbury, was told she was too young for testing, despite displaying many of the symptoms of cervical cancer.

She found sex painful, had spotting between her periods and suffered from lower back pain.

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"When I went to speak to the GP they said you are too young and it's not going to be anything serious," Ms Duck-Bingham said.

"When I went to have a coil fitted after having my third child a bit of my cervix came away and they realised I had cancer.

"It was decided I would have a radical hysterectomy so that was a seven-and-a-half hour operation and they took the top part of my vagina, my cervix, my womb, fallopian tubes and the lymph nodes from my pelvis.

"I believe when you are sexually active you should be offered the test at that point."

Image copyright Public Health England
Image caption Meg was found to have abnormal cells at her first routine screening and has since had further treatment

Meg, 32 from Bristol, had abnormal cells discovered from a routine smear test in 2012 and was later found to have cancerous cells.

She urges anyone unsure about cervical screening not to put it off.

"My first consultant told me in no uncertain terms it was a good job I attended that first smear test - had I not, he didn't like to think about what could have happened.

"I was only 25 and this was my first test so it was a shock when the results came back that abnormal cells had been detected."

A spokeswoman for Public Health England said: "The evidence demonstrates cervical screening in women under the age of 25 would do more harm then good as cervical cancer is extremely rare in under 25s, despite cervical abnormalities being fairly common.

"Being referred for unnecessary medical treatment and further investigations is of little or no clinical benefit but is likely to cause a considerable amount of anxiety for the women involved."

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