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Nursing student campaigns for drop in routine smear age

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A student nurse is campaigning to lower the age for cervical cancer screening after being diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 20.

Hannah Booth, 22, who is a first year nursing student at Leicester’s De Montfort University, has started a petition to lower the age of screening from 25 back to 20.

She has so far collected 7,000 signatures but hopes to gather at least 3,000 more before taking it to Downing Street. 

Ms Booth was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and had a hysterectomy to remove two tumours. The care she received subsequently led her to train as a nurse.

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 do routine smear tests at 20. 

Ms Booth said: “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.

“After showing some of the symptoms of the disease, I decided to visit my GP and after a smear test it was confirmed that I had cancer. If I’d have waited until 25 then I probably wouldn’t be here now - which is terrifying.”

She added: “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.”

Ms Booth, who has a daughter, plans to cycle the 100 miles from Leicester to London to deliver the petition.

She said: “I urge people to sign my petition and help make a difference. Changing the screening age could save lives and that’s worth a few minutes of anyone’s time.”

Click her to sign the electronic petition

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • It is really sad what happened to Ms Booth and I'm glad that she has recovered, and also that it led her to become a nurse. However, the correct procedure happened. She had symptoms, she went to the GP who did the necessary procedures and the cancer was detected. Every woman, no matter how old, going with symptoms should be investigated and women between 20 and 25 will not be turned away for that. The risk/benefits of screening (which is not diagnostic) this age group have been weighed up and in this age group false-positives are more common which can lead to unnecessary investigations and emotional trauma. These decisions have not been taken lightly and should not stop women being treated who need it. Maybe it will be reviewed again, taking into account the age that girls start having sex etc, but there are good reasons as to why it is not in place in England currently.

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  • Its a pity I hadn't noticed this petition sooner as I have been a victum to cervical cancer which was found in me at 18. I was lucky to be in such an early stage that it was simply dealt with but for years I have underwent smear tests varying from initially every 3-6 mths to yearly to ensure I remain healthy. Its a huge shock to be informed of something like this at such an early age and I have encouraged my own daughters to insist on a smear test early from their gp.

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