Rachel Sarjantson passed away at 24 and now her family are calling for the age of cervical screenings to be lowered
Rachel Sarjantson was just 24 when she lost her life to cervical cancer and now her family are lobbying to lower the age of smear tests.
The mother-of-one battled the disease for a year before passing away two weeks ago, leaving behind her fiancé Karl and 20-month-old son, Ronnie.
Currently in the UK, women are invited to have a cervical screening or smear test every three years once they turn 25.
When Rachel was finally given a screening it was too late. At 23, she was diagnosed with aggressive cancer that had already spread to other parts of her body.
Last summer she underwent a hysterectomy and radiotherapy, after which doctors gave her the all clear. But in April this year she found out the cancer had returned and her body was too weak to undergo chemotherapy.
“She didn't need to suffer this. It was tragic and completely unavoidable. It shouldn't be happening in this country,” said her mother, Lisa Rich.
Rachel was due to marry fiancé Karl in March but they had to cancel the ceremony due to her illness.
The tragedy of Rachel’s case, as with so many cervical cancer fatalities, is that it could have been avoided.
Over 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer were recorded in 2011, making it the most common cancer in women under the age of 35,
According to the NHS, more than two women died every day in 2012 from cervical cancer but 100 per cent of those cases were preventable.
“If the age limit had been lowered already, she might still be here,” Rachel’s sister Zoe told South West News Service.
“So many young girls are dying of it. Maybe in time they can help other mums, for their children's sake if not anything else.”
A cervical screening does not prevent cancer but detects abnormal cells that may turn to cancer in the future.
There are numerous factors that increase the risk of developing cervical cancer including the human papilloma virus (HPV), oestrogen-progestogen contraceptives and smoking.
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