By James Somper
A devastated woman has said her life could have been saved if she had had a smear test at a younger age.
Paige Hart, 25, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in November 2018 at the age of 24 and says her symptoms weren’t picked up on – despite seeing a GP FOUR times.
She is now calling for the smear test age to be lowered to when women are first sexually active so that doctors can diagnose earlier and save lives.
Paige, from Nottingham, claims she visited doctor’s four times to complain of bleeding – and was told she had an inflamed pelvis until the fourth and final appointment.
She said: “I’m really angry, I feel like the NHS have let me down.
“If I’d have had a smear test a few years ago the cancer would definitely have been found. If I’d lived in Scotland, where the smear test age is lower, I might be looking at a different future.
“By the time it was found it was stage 3B which was fairly well progressed.
“The future is uncertain, I need to live everyday now like it’s my last, it’s been a really terrible year.
“I’m living a half life. I can’t live but I can’t plan for anything. I don’t know what’s going to happen at all.”
Paige was diagnosed in November 2018 after experiencing bleeding for several months as well as back pains.
She said she visited her GP surgery on four separate occasions and was at one stage even told that she had an inflamed pelvis.
Paige was eventually diagnosed with stage 3B cervical cancer.
The cancer has now spread to her lymph nodes where doctor’s have told her they can only contain the the disease but cannot stop it.
She said: “I was constantly bleeding. I went to the doctor but they just palmed me off with tablets. They said I had an inflamed pelvis and there was nothing wrong with me.
“I was only 24 at the time and I suspect that they just thought I was too young to get something like cervical cancer.
“I saw a different female doctor on the fourth visit who said something wasn’t right with my cervix.
“I went straight to hospital and then into theatre so they could stop the bleeding. It was then that that they diagnosed me with cervical cancer.”
Paige spent two weeks in hospital before she was discharged and undertook chemotherapy, brachytherapy and radiotherapy for eleven weeks.
The cancer has now spread to lymph nodes, stomach and chest.
She has been told it is treatable and not curable and is currently having chemotherapy.
Paige added: “If I’d been in Scotland it would have been found.
“When the cancer was actually found it was too far gone.
“I think the age needs to be lowered to when people are first sexually active.
“It’s ten years since Jade Goody passed away but the doctor’s must have thought ‘she’s only 24 so it can’t be cervical cancer’.
“The age the test takes place needs lowering.
“Despite everything I’m trying to keep positive and live life to the full.”
Professor Anne Mackie, Director of Programmes, UK National Screening Committee, said:
“The UK National Screening Committee does not recommend cervical screening to those under 25 years of age as thankfully cervical cancer in young women in their teens and early 20s is very rare.
“So the benefits of screening these younger women, most of who have already been vaccinated against the two most important types of HPV that causes cervical cancer, are small.
“Harmless and common changes in the cervix are very common in young women and in most cases resolve themselves without any need for treatment.
“If we were to screen women under 25 these changes could lead to unnecessary and harmful tests and treatments.
“Almost all cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) – HPV vaccination is very effective against the infection and as the uptake of the vaccine has been very good since 2008, there is less reason to lower the age of cervical screening.
“The vaccine has led to a dramatic reduction in HPV infection in young women in England and we anticipate a fall in the numbers diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 24-25 in 2019.
“It is still important for women to have cervical screening when invited, even if you have been vaccinated.”
Paige’s friends and family are currently raising money to support her on GoFundMe.
You can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/paige039s-cancer-journey