Cervical Screening Awareness Week, an annual event organised by the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, takes place next week (June 10-16).
It aims to highlight the importance of cervical screening (the smear test) and encourage women to take part in regular cervical screening.
Uptake of the cervical screening in Scotland is at a 10 year low, particularly in women aged 25 - 29. Approximately one in four women do not participate in cervical screening when invited to do so.
Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership Screening Engagement Practitioner Heather McAdam highlighted the importance of the tests.
She said: “The smear test saves around 5,000 lives in the UK every year. It is not a test for cancer, but a test to identify changes in the cells of the cervix so they can be monitored or treated. Without treatment, some changes may develop into cervical cancer.
“It is estimated cervical screening prevents eight out of 10 cervical cancers from developing.
“Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited to participate in cervical screening every three years. Women aged between 50 and 64 receive an invitation every five years.
“NHS Highland is joining Jo’s Trust to encourage all eligible women to take part in cervical screening. If you missed your last screening invite, don’t wait until you next receive an invitation letter – you can make an appointment to be screened at your GP practice.
“There are usually no symptoms with changes in cervical cells and sometimes there are no symptoms with early-stage cervical cancer. But you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible if you have unusual discharge, or bleeding after sex, between periods or after the menopause.
“There are many other conditions that can cause these symptoms that are not related to cancer.
“However, if you experience them, you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible, even if you have recently had a normal cervical screening result.”