WOMEN across the world have been taking to social media to show their support for Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.

The #SmearForSmear campaign is being run by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and aims to raise awareness about the disease among young women.

Famous faces including fashion models Cara Delevingne and Kendal Jenner as well as Essex’s Towie star Chloe Sims, right, have all taken part in the viral craze.

It encourages women to smudge lipstick across their face and post a selfie then nominate a friend to follow suit www.jostrust.org.uk.


"Yay my smear test is today!"

Let’s face it, it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear these words coming from a woman’s mouth.

Such a procedure is never going to be the highlight of your day but the truth is, it’s really not that bad and can end up saving your life.

When reality star Jade Goody died of ovarian cancer in 2009 aged just 27, it sparked the ‘Jade Goody effect’ where women flocked to get the screening.

At its peak 3.6 million women were taking up the offer of the free NHS screening but within a year the numbers plummeted by 300,000.

Now the effect has evaporated further. So why are more women now putting off this life-saving service?

Clinical nurse specialist in colposcopy Nicola Fleury says she understands why women are nervous about having smear tests – but insists they could save their lives.

“I have to admit that when my first reminder came through at 25 it took me until I was 26 and a half to actually have the smear test done.

“They are not nice but they take five minutes and that five minutes could save your life. When I started working in colposcopy I saw just how important it was.”

She says after a resurgence several years ago there was now a need to remind women how important being screened – and attending follow-up appointments are.

Nicola, of Colchester Hospital University Trust, which runs Colchester General Hospital, says: “As soon as a woman has an abnormal smear test she would be referred to us and we’d carry out a colposcopy.

“This is a specially designed microscope which examines the cervix in detail. I take a biopsy which will confirm if the abnormal cells picked up during the test are pre-cancerous.

“I hate that term because in a lot of cases it will not lead to cancer at all, and I think that is something that does frighten women.

“In many cases it can go back to normal in a few months so that is why we have attending follow-up appointments is so important,” she says.

But figures from last year show some women are not turning up for their first referrals after having an abnormal smear at their GP.

Nicola says between the start of July and end of September last year seven per cent of those referred with an abnormal test, failed to turn up for their colposcopy appointment.

And between the start of April and the beginning of June, 11 per cent did not arrive for their follow up appointments.

“I can understand it, you don’t want that speculum anywhere near you because it is uncomfortable, but it is so important.”

She says in many cases abnormalities will have disappeared at the next checkup but catching them as early as possible is vital.

“Screening is so important because without going to the GP and having that smear test, you will not get to the stage of seeing people like me and that could be the difference between early treatment and things getting worse.

“We are much more rigourous now in referrals as well so even though you do not automatically get invited for a smear test until you are 25 there are some signs that women can look out for.

“Patients who present to their GP with symptoms like having bleeding after sex and in between periods for example will now always automatically be referred for a colposcopy.”