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Women with physical disabilities denied access to smear tests

young woman in a wheelchair

UK – Two thirds of women who have a physical disability have been unable to attend a cervical screening.

New research, by cervical cancer charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, has found that women with physical disabilities are facing barriers to accessing life-saving cervical screening.

Their survey of 335 women living with physical disabilities found that 63% had been unable to attend a screening due to their disability and half did not attend due to a previous bad experience or fears about how health professionals might react.

The respondents had a wide range of physical disabilities and conditions including spinal muscular atrophy, paraplegia, and cerebral palsy.

Cervical screening is a routine procedure offered to anyone with a cervix from the age of 25. It is used to detect early abnormalities which could develop into cancer  if left untreated. The screening programme is estimated to save more than 4,000 lives every year. In the UK there are 13.9 million people with a disability, 56% of whom are women.

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