An increasing number of Tayside women are skipping a potentially life-saving test, according to the latest figures.
The percentage of women attending a cervical screening — a procedure used to detect abnormal cells that could lead to cancer — was 71.6% in 2014/15.
Test numbers have been decreasing steadily each year since 2005-06, when the percentage of women going for the check-up was 75.1%.
An exception was the period between 2008/09, which saw a spike of women going for screening going up to 75% — possibly influenced by the tragic death of Big Brother star Jade Goody, above, who succumbed to cervical cancer in 2009.
But since the so-called “Jade Goody effect”, the numbers have been dropping again by about 1% to 2% each year.
The Tele spoke to a Dundee woman who described how her life was saved by a cervical screening — also known as a “smear test”.
Sales manager Lorraine Muir, 41, said: “My case was quite unusual because I’d been for various checks and I’d always gone for my smear.
“But that year, I’d put it off for a few months as it was summer and I was busy.
“I went for it right after I got back from holiday that August, having been checked in January as part of another test.
“In those few months I’d developed a tumour the size of a walnut.
“If I’d left it even a bit longer to go for the test, it could have been too late.
“It sounds like a cliché, but the cervical screening saved my life.”
Lorraine was diagnosed and had a hysterectomy to treat the cancer — which means she can’t have children — when she was aged just 32.
Since then, the cancer hasn’t returned and Lorraine is keeping a positive outlook, describing herself as “lucky” despite her ordeal.
She added: “I can’t stress enough how important it is to go for cervical screenings.
“I was still one of the lucky ones because the cancer hasn’t returned.
“It’s very concerning to hear that fewer Tayside women are getting tested.”
The figures were released by the Information Services Division Scotland and show the percentage uptake of the screening by women aged 20-60, who had a record of a previous screening test within the last 3.5 years.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, but a way of checking the health of the cervix.
Further tests are carried out if abnormalities are found.
Dundee University’s clinical fellow Sarah Hawco, who has a background in obstetrics and gynaecology, explained that the procedure is simple but important.
She said: “Some people may skip the smear test as they may feel apprehensive or embarrassed, but it’s a quick test that’s really worth it as it can prevent serious problems in future.”