THE NUMBER of women taking up screenings for cervical cancer has fallen in East Lancashire.

Figures reveal more than one-third of women aged 25-49 in Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are not having the procedure.

Data for 2016 shows 64 per cent of woman in this age group are failing to take up screenings, compared to 65 per cent in 2016.

While there has been a decrease in the numbers for East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), with 75 per cent taking up screenings in 2014 compared to 71 per cent in 2016, according to NHS Digital figures.

Although the figures are less stark for women in the 50-64 age group, there has also been a decrease across both CCGs in the number being screened for cervical cancer.

The figures for 2014 to 2016 show that almost 100,000 women eligible for screening in the area for cervical cancer are not taking up on the offer.

Mary Brennan, the founder and trustee of Barnoldswick and Earby Bosom Friends, who support people affected by cancer in the Pendle, Ribble Valley, and Craven areas, described the figures as ‘devastating’.

She said: “I think the problem is many women don’t come forward for screening because of fear of diagnosis and because of lack of awareness and education.

“I would urge women to get screened, as diagnosing cancer early can save lives.”

Sophie Lowes, from Cancer Research UK North West, said the fall in the number of women going for cervical cancer screening over recent years is ‘disappointing’.

She said: “Cervical screening aims to pick up abnormal cells before cancer has a chance to develop so we’d encourage women to think about taking part when they receive their invitation.

““There are exciting opportunities ahead for the programme, such as the switch to HPV primary testing, and the fact that young women are now vaccinated against the main types of HPV which cause cervical cancer.

“Refinements to the cervical screening programme are important to help save more lives in the future.”

Dianne Draper, screening and immunisation lead, for Lancashire from NHS England, said: “It is of real concern that fewer women, particularly younger women are not being screened, with over a third of women under 30 not taking the test.

“If women are embarrassed about having the test or worried about what the test results might say, they should talk to their GP who can explain why the test is important.”

Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire CCGs were unavailable for comment.