DOCTORS have urged women to take a smear test as part of a drive to combat cervical cancer.

Early diagnosis proved crucial for East Lancashire survivor Rosie Hollis, who has also given her backing to Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, which runs until Saturday.

The 28-year-old was stunned to be told she had cervical cancer after going for a smear test in 2010, after unknowingly experiencing symptoms of the disease, including back pain and continuous periods.

But she was later given the all clear after her uterine cervix was surgically removed, with no need for chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

She has since campaigned to raise awareness about the disease, for which she was chosen to carry the Olympic torch through Blackburn in the lead up to London 2012.

Women aged between 25 and 64-years-old are invited to a cervical screening every three to five years, but more than 20 per cent do not attend.

This is despite 3,000 women being diagnosed every year in the UK, leading to 900 deaths.

Rosie, of Cemetery Road in Darwen, said: “Breast cancer gets so much publicity that it makes it difficult for other cancers to get support. It would be fabulous for cervical cancer to get that kind of attention.

“It’s a taboo subject and people don’t find it easy to talk about, but we need to do everything we can to break down those barriers.”

Dr Mike Ions, a GP in Pendle and chief clinical officer of East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Having your cervical screening sample taken should only take matter of minutes.

“You can bring a relative or friend with you and you can request a female nurse or GP to take the sample. As with all cancers, the earlier a problem is spotted, the better the patient’s outcome. Screening saves lives, and we are committed to helping and encouraging all women to access this vital service.”

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