FEWER people in Worcestershire have received cervical tests according to new figures.

This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week, and the charity  Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is urging people to get tested and share their experiences with others.

Figures from NHS England show, as of December, 114,059 people across both age groups in Worcestershire had been screened within that time frame.

This was 73.1 per cent of the 156,074 people eligible – with the screening rate falling from 74.6 per cent a year before.

This also means 10,801 more people need to be screened to hit the Government's target rate of 80 per cent.

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Cervical screenings, also known as 'smear tests', are offered to women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 49 every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 receive their invitations every five years.

A small sample of cells is taken and checked for pre-cancerous abnormalities and viruses such as HPV, which can lead to cancer.

Samantha Dixon, CEO of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "Through screening, we have the opportunity to eliminate cervical cancer – yet coverage has been in decline for the last 20 years, and alarmingly, has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

"Raising awareness during Cervical Screening Awareness Week can help spread support and understanding.

"However, to address the barriers affecting screening rates we need a step change from government to make it more accessible to women."

Every area in England saw a fall during the pandemic, with Worcestershire's overall screening rate at 76.7 per cent at the end of 2019.

Professor Peter Johnson, the national clinical director for cancer at NHS England, spoke of the importance of screening in January.

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He said: "Screening is an effective way to prevent cervical cancer developing or to catch it at a very early stage, which is why it is especially important that people attend their screening appointments.

"There are lots of reasons why somebody might not want to come forward – embarrassment, inconvenience, or uncertainty – but please speak to a healthcare professional if you are unsure.

"It’s also important to understand that HPV can remain undetected for many years before later going on to cause abnormal cells which can lead to cancer, so even if you’ve previously had a negative test, it is vital that you attend your next one."