Sinn Féin Councillor Caoimhe McKnight is to bring forward the following motion before this month’s meeting of Derry and Strabane District Council.
That Derry City and Strabane District Council recognises that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers in women. And as such will write to the Permanent Secretary for Health and to the Minister for Health in the 26 Counties urging them to reconsider their screening policy. We believe in addition to population screening a smear test should be available to any female, regardless of age, if they request it. #smearondemand”
Speaking before the meeting Sinn Féin Councillor Caoime McKnight said
“I felt it was very important to bring this motion forward.
“Cervical screening is about preventing cancer not simply detection and health officials should reconsider the policy of only offering screening to over 25s.
“I can speak from experience when I say that a Smear Test could literally save your life. When living in Scotland at the age of 21 (which is the age there at which you are eligible for a smear) I received the notification of my eligibility and advised to avail of it.
“But like many young women I put it off for a couple of months before finally going for the test. When I tell you how grateful I am that I made the decision to have the test it is no exaggeration.
“It was lucky (yes Lucky) that I made the decision to have the test as they found abnormal cells. I dread to think what I may have been told if I had to wait until the age of 25 before being tested.
“After treatment and a few yearly smears everything is now fine and I am now in the normal 3 year test cycle.
“So from personal experience I can’t encourage women strongly enough to go get checked out…I can assure you the peace of mind is worth any embarrassment in having this potentially life-saving procedure.
One in four women aged 25-64 don’t get tested and this falls to 1 in 3 for 25-29 year olds.
“Smear tests prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers – the most common form of cancer in women under 35 – so it is concerning that so many women don’t get tested.
“It is therefore extremely important that all eligible women are pro-active in getting appointments for their smear when invited to do so. It can save your life.”