COUNCILLORS have put together a video to explain the importance of smear tests to mark cervical screening awareness week (June 11 to 17).

Cllrs Jeanie Bell, Gill Neal, Marlene Quinn and Jeanette Banks joined director of public health in St Helens Sue Forster in the video revealing their own stories of getting tested.

Despite the fact that uptake in St Helens is 74 per cent higher than the North West and England, cervical screening uptake is at a 19-year low, particularly in younger women (aged 25 to 29) and older women (aged 60 to 64).

Meanwhile, one in four women do not take up their screening invitation at all.

Women who are registered with a GP and are aged 25 to 49 years of age are invited for a cervical smear every three years, with women aged between 50 to 64 invited every five years.

Dr Paul Rose, St Helens GP cancer lead, said: “Cervical screening saves lives; please don’t ignore your screening invitation. A smear test takes just a few minutes and nine out of ten cervical screening results come back normal.”

Sue Forster, director of public health for St Helens Council, added: “We know that many women feel uncomfortable about the tests, but being screened regularly means any problems can be found early and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.

“I would encourage all women who are eligible to take up their smear test invitation and for those who have missed a smear, to contact their GP to arrange an appointment.”

Cervical cancer is often symptomless. However the most common symptoms are: Abnormal bleeding during or after sexual intercourse or between periods, post menopausal bleeding, unusual and/or unpleasant vaginal discharge, discomfort or pain during sex, Lower back pain

For more information speak to your GP or practice nurse or visit the Jo’s Trust website at