Women should start being screened for cervical cancer at the age of 20, according to a student nurse who was diagnosed with the disease.
Having been diagnosed when she was just 20 years old, Hannah Booth is campaigning to have the age of screening lowered. As it stands, women are not routinely screened until the age of 25. The age for routine cervical screening was raised from 20 to 25 in England in 2003 after a review concluded that screening under-25s would do more harm than good. Scotland and Wales still carry out routine smear tests at 20.
“Up until the age of 18, girls can have the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and then at 25 routine screening starts - but in between those ages there’s nothing to prevent or detect the disease,” said Booth.
Ms Booth, who is now 22 and has a four-year-old daughter, had to have a hysterectomy to remove two tumours to give her the best chance of survival.
“When I went into hospital to have my hysterectomy the nurses and carers on the ward were absolutely brilliant and it was then that I decided I wanted to become a nurse,” she said.
Ms Booth, a first year nursing student at De Montfort University, hopes to gather at least 10,000 signatures on her petition before heading to Downing Street.
She has already secured 7,000, and plans to cycle the 100 mile trip from Leicester to London to deliver the petition. The cycle rise will also raise money for a cancer charity.
“Having been through the illness myself, I want people to understand how important the issue is and that people my age can get cervical cancer,” she said.