Researchers say regular screenings dramatically raise a woman's chances of beating the disease
Swedish researchers have found that those diagnosed with cervical cancer via screening have a 92 per cent chance of recovery, compared to the 66 per cent chance of those who receive symptom-based diagnosis.
While the test does not diagnose the cancer, it spots any cellular changes, indicative of the disease.
The study, published in bmj.com, says the improved statistics for survival are because smear tests catch the disease at a much earlier stage, usually before it has spread.
The English screening programme offers a test every three years to women aged 25 to 49, and one every five years to women aged 50 to 64.
But not all women go regularly. Recent NHS data shows one in five UK women decline the opportunity to get a smear test.
Robert Music, director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, says the research highlights the importance of cervical screenings.
‘Cervical cancer is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening which saves 5,000 UK lives a year. And for those diagnosed, survival rates are good if the disease is caught early.’