HALTON women are urged to make sure they attend their cervical screening appointments when they are invited by their GP.

This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and health bosses from NHS England Merseyside are stressing the importance of this vital check.

Attending regular cervical screening appointments (also known as smear tests) at your local doctor’s surgery is the best way to identify abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix at an early stage which can help to prevent cancer before it happens.

The latest figures show that three out of four women aged 25 to 64 year olds in Merseyside had their cervical screen done when invited.

Dan Seddon, screening and immunisation lead from Merseyside, said: “A cervical screening test takes about five minutes and it can save your life.

“Women have the option to request that a female doctor or nurse do their test. Women can ask for a friend to support them.

“Picking up abnormalities early means they can usually be treated easily and cured.”

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix.

Most women's test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test will show some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

It is recommended that women who are between the ages of 25 and 49 are screened every three years, and women between the ages of 50 and 64 are screened every five years.