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Cervical cancer: women with learning disabilities halve their chances of getting a smear test with only 32% being screened

As we mark Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, charities including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Aid have urged people to get screened.

Women with learning disabilities were half as likely to have cervical screening as those without (Image: Mark Hall/JPIMedia)

Women with learning disabilities have half their ability Cervical examination than those who don’t, new analysis by NHS England data of NationalWorld shows.

Less than one-third of women and those with a learning disability of the cervix are up-to-date on key cancer screenings, while not even one in 20 have been screened in the United States. a region of England.

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The two leading charities say the gap is in part due to a “fatal misconception” among GPs that women with learning disabilities are not sexually active and do not need to be invited. screening examination.

Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by some type of high-risk infection human papillomavirus (HPV)is transmitted through sexual activity.

As we mark Cervical Cancer Week, charities including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Aid have appealed to everyone. screening.

Analysis of NHS data found that only 31.5% of GP-registered women diagnosed with a learning disability had been adequately screened in March 2021, compared with 69.9% in those without a disability study.

Women aged 25 to 49 should be invited for screening every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 are invited every 5 years. Patients were counted as fully screened if they had been screened within the past 3.5 or 5.5 years, respectively.

Coverage was slightly higher for both groups of women before Covid, but still shows a similar gap, with 33.6% of women with disabilities being screened in March 2020, compared with 71, 8% of those without a learning disability.

The NHS England data collection is designed to “provide information about key differences in health care between people with learning disabilities and those without”.

However, the GPs involved in the voluntary data collection included only 56% of patients in the UK.

The most recent data show that in Bath and North East Somerset, not even one in 20 women with learning disabilities is screened for cervical cancer at participating GPs.

Only 4.5% of those with learning disabilities had updated screening, compared with 66.3% for women without disabilities.

However, the GPs providing the data represent only 3% of the region’s patients, with records showing that only one in 22 women with learning disabilities arrested were screened.

Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commiss Operating Group (CCG) did not respond to requests for comment.

The next lowest were Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, with 16.7% of patients with learning disabilities screened (4% of patients were captured by participating GPs), followed by North East Essex CCG with 18% (42% of patients in the area were captured).

Why do women with learning disabilities face a health gap?

Dan Scorer, head of policy and public affairs for the learning disability charity Mencap, said women with learning disabilities are less likely to get cervical screening due to many reasons. problem.

Previous research has determined that GPs assume that women with learning disabilities are not sexually active and therefore do not need to be invited for screening, he said.

Research indicates that women with learning disabilities may also suffer from a lack of access to information and appropriately trained staff to support them, while healthcare workers may also be concerned about patients’ inability to agree.

Mr. Scorer added: “This is one aspect of a huge problem around barriers to health care that people with learning disabilities face.

His remarks were echoed by Samantha Dixon, chief executive officer of the Jo’s Certified Cancer Trust, who said Cervical examination may be more difficult for many different groups, including women with learning disabilities.

Again, Ms. Dixon said one of the reasons for this is that “many people have been told by their healthcare professional that testing is not relevant to them, because they are thought to be sexually inactive.” education, that is a fatal misconception”.

There is also a need for easy-to-read cervical screening information and caregiver-directed resources, she said, so that “women with learning disabilities can be fully informed about what is involved in testing.”

NHS England did not respond to a request for comment.

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https://www.nationalworld.com/health/cervical-cancer-women-with-learning-disabilities-half-as-likely-to-get-smear-tests-with-just-32-screened-3537073 Cervical cancer: women with learning disabilities halve their chances of getting a smear test with only 32% being screened

Huynh Nguyen

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