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WE NEED your support to help Jen's Final Wish campaign to be a success. The Examiner urges every reader to email their message backing our campaign to lower the smear test age in England to 20.
We will pass on your messages to MPs Cheryl Gillan, Dominic Grieve and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, to put pressure on politicians to consider changing NHS policy.
Experts say by offering a smear test from a lower age, doctors can catch cervical cancer before it fully develops and treat it.
If a smear test had been offered to Jen at the age of 20, she may well still be alive today. Reality TV star Jade Goody could also have been saved from her cervical cancer death aged just 27. * Email your messages, with your name and address to lawrence email@example.com or write to Gazette House, 28 Bakers Road, Uxbridge, UB8 1RG.
MPs back campaign
OUR campaign has received the full backing of local MPs, Cheryl Gillan and Dominic Grieve (pictured below).
Both MPs are cabinet ministers in David Cameron's government - which means Jen's story will be heard by Britain's key decision makers.
When informed of our campaign, Dominic Grieve, MP for Beaconsfield and Attorney General, said: "I am delighted to be able to support this campaign that aims to save lives in Buckinghamshire. I wish the Bucks Examiner and Advertiser every success in this appeal."
Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham and Wales Secretary, also gave us her support.
She said: "I sympathise with the families who have lost relatives to cervical cancer. If we have ways to prevent unnecessary deaths from this disease, then it is important to consider matters like vaccination against the human papillomavirus.
"We do need to look at all ways of protecting young people."Obviously some parents may have concerns about vaccination. For anyone who has questions then it is always best to seek medical advice, especially from the family doctor who will know about the medical history and any health issues.
"I would also urge women to take up the invitations for cervical screening."
Currently England is the only United Kingdom country where compulsory invitations for screenings are sent out at 25, it is 20 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, although Northern Ireland has said it is planning to raise their age to 25 from January 2011.
On the rationale for the 25 age threshold, the Department of Health had this to say:
"In May 2009, a review into the cervical screening age by the country's leading experts concluded unanimously that the age should not be lowered.
"The independent Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening (ACCS) found that screening women under the age of 25 did more harm than good but that more work needs to be done to ensure patients with symptoms are treated correctly.
"Therefore, new guidance with input from a number of GPs was published in March 2010, and has been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the Royal College of Physicians.
"Cervical screening currently starts at age 25 years in England - this is the age recommended by leading experts, including the ACCS and the World Health Organisation. We will be keeping this under constant review with the advice of the ACCS and any new emerging research or evidence."
A spokesperson added that women under 25 were more likely to come back with false, positive results, which could lead to unnecessary invasive treatment which can affect fertility.
'HPV vaccine is vital for girls'
MY VIEW by Dr Clare Strong, consultant in public health at NHS Bucks
"THE HPV vaccine is vital in helping to protect girls against cervical cancer, which can have a devastating effect on lives. In line with the new school year, more than 3,000 secondary school girls aged 12-13 in Bucks are being offered the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect them against cervical cancer.
"NHS Buckinghamshire urges all of those offered the vaccine to take up this life-saving opportunity. The vaccine is administered in three doses over a period of about six months, and it is important that girls attend all three vaccination clinics to ensure that they receive maximum protection against this potentially deadly disease.
"It's crucial that girls take advantage of this opportunity to prevent the development of the second most common cancer in women under the age of 35.
"In England, there are on average about 2,300 new cases of cervical cancer every year, with about 750 women dying from the disease.
"In Buckinghamshire, there are more than 20 new cases of cervical cancer identified each year, and about five to 10 women die from the disease.
"More than 99 per cent of cervical cancers are caused by HPV infection. The vaccine, offered as part of the national
HPV vaccine programme, protects against the two types of HPV that cause more than 70 per cent of cervical cancers.
"I can reassure local people that the vaccine has passed the rigorous safety tests needed for it to be used in the UK and other European countries.
"The vaccine has an excellent safety record, and more than 1.4 million doses have already been given across the UK."
'More girls need to be screened'
MY VIEW by Rob Music, director of Jo's Trust and the only UK charity dedicated to this type of cancer
"WITH the vaccine and the screening it can be an easily preventable disease.
"If girls and women go for the injections and tests we could see a dramatic reduction in the number of cases of cervical cancer. The challenge with screening is to actually get women to take up the invitation. One in five women aged 25-34 don't, they need to be more proactive about it.
"The Bucks Examiner's campaign is one we are very supportive of."
CERVICAL CANCER: THE FACTS
* What causes cervical cancer?
Human papilloma virus or HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer. It is passed on through sexual contact. If you have persistent or frequent infections you are more at risk of developing pre-cancerous cervical cells or cervical cancer than people who have not had these infections.
* What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom of cervical cancer is bleeding from the vagina - at other times than when having a period.
Some women also have a discharge that smells unpleasant or discomfort during sex.
* What precautions can be taken?
Condoms can help to reduce the risk of becoming infected with HPV, but they don't cover all of the skin and are therefore not completely effective. A healthy diet and not smoking can also reduce the risk.
**What preventative treatment can be taken?
All girls aged 12 or 13 in the UK are now routinely offered the HPV vaccine at school. **What is the vaccine?
The vaccine is administered in three doses over a period of about six months, and it is important girls attend all three vaccination clinics to ensure that they receive maximum protection.
**What about screening?
If you are between the ages of 25 and 60, you will be contacted at least every five years and asked to go for a cervical screening test. **Where does the screening take place?
Your GP surgery, a Well Woman clinic, a family planning clinic, a genito-urinary clinic, or antenatal clinic.
**For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/hpv or call the HPV information line on 0845 602 3303. For more information on Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust visit www.jostrust.org.uk/.