Great Britain

DIY smear tests will be posted to women under plans to boost the uptake of life-saving cancer checks


DIY smear tests will be posted to women under plans to boost the uptake of life-saving cancer checks.

Tens of thousands of home kits will be sent to patients who are at least six months overdue for cervical screening.

Women will then be able to send their completed tests directly to NHS labs and results will be sent to them by post and to their GP.

Initially, the NHS will give out 31,000 home swabs from 166 GP practices in London.

But if the ten-month pilot scheme proves successful, a national rollout is likely.

Test uptake is at a two-decade low, with embarrassment blamed for putting off about four million women.

Medics say almost half in some parts of the capital are not up to date with their cervical screening.

NHS national clinical director for cancer Professor Peter Johnson said: “We know there are lots of reasons why women might not attend a screening appointment, including worries about Covid.

“These home kits give thousands of women another option to keep up to date with their screening. It could save your life.”

Almost 3,200 women a year are diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly 1,000 die.

Research suggests DIY home tests are nearly as accurate as those done in a clinic.

A video will show women how the test should be done.

Pilot study leader Dr Anita Lim, from King’s College London, said: “Self-sampling is a game-changer.”

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