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.”