12 September 2011
An estimated 7,000 women in Jersey aged between 20 and 64 are not taking up a screening test which helps prevent cervical cancer, according to the Public Health Department.
Cervical screening (also known as a smear test) can detect pre-cancerous cells in the cervix (the neck of the womb), which if treated early, can prevent cancer from developing.
To highlight the importance of smear tests, the Public Health Department has launched the 'What’s pants but could save your life?' awareness campaign. Recognising that many women feel embarrassed or nervous about smear tests, the campaign uses humour to encourage women to be screened, particularly if they have missed a test or have never had one.
Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr Susan Turnbull says "Each year in Jersey, 1 to 2 women die from cervical cancer. We want to highlight to women, particularly to those in their twenties or thirties who may never have had a smear test, just how important it is for them to have a regular test every 3 years."
Head of Healthcare Programmes Dr Linda Diggle, who is overseeing the campaign, says "We appreciate that having a smear test is not a favourite activity for women. It can be mildly uncomfortable and women often feel embarrassed about it.
"Some women have referred to the procedure as ‘pants,’ meaning it is a bit awkward or unpleasant. This led to our choosing the ‘What’s pants but could save your life?’ slogan to honestly relay an important healthcare message. Our campaign designs use colourful pairs of pants and humour to hopefully make our message memorable for women. We want women to talk about the campaign to their female friends and family and to encourage any who aren’t regularly screened to have a smear test. It may be pants but it really could save their life."
Campaign posters are being displayed in shops, gyms, hair salons, GP surgeries, and a number of other venues. A banner will also be up in King Street for the rest of the month.
Women who would like to book an appointment should contact their GP (most surgeries have a female doctor or nurse which can be requested). Cervical screening is also available at Le Bas Centre (telephone 443781).