Sister Of Cervical Cancer Victim Calls For Testing

Sister Of A Woman Who Died Of Cervical Cancer Argues That Testing Should Be Expanded To Younger People


The sister of a woman who died of cervical cancer has called for the age at which people are tested for the disease to be lowered.

Sophie Jones, 19, died in March 2014 from the disease. Her death led to a large online backlash against the current system of cervical screening where only people over the age of 25 are offered tests for cancer.

At first, the Liverpool teenager was told she had Crohn's disease, before doctors finally discovered she had cancer just a few months before she died.

Speaking to the BBC, her twin sister Ashleigh said it was Sophie's only wish to have the age at which people are offered testing for cervical cancer lowered.

The campaign eventually went online and a petition calling for legal changes has attracted 300,000 signatures from members of the public.

"I don't speak to anyone about it because then it's real. To see her with her cheek bones sticking out, it just wasn't her, she wasn't that person," Ms Jones told the BBC.

Alison McGovern, the MP for Wirral South, where the Joneses live, said: "This is a really important opportunity to ask questions of the government about what more they can do to make sure that this is not likely to happen to anyone else."

However, Professor Julietta Patnick, director of NHS Cancer Screening Programmes in England, said that people under the age of 25 are not offered tests because the screenings do not work as well for people in that age group.

It is also thought that testing people before they are 25 could have links with premature births, although this is not conclusive.

In Scotland, women are invited to take a cervical cancer screening at the age of 20, but this is planned to be raised to 25 amid concerns over cost-effectiveness and test accuracy.

However, any decision on this may be changed or delayed by the 300,000-strong petition.

Expert Opinion
This is of course a hugely emotive issue and, having handled cases in which women in their twenties have had cervical cancer initially missed by doctors, we have seen the huge effect that it has on so many lives.

"It is vital that debate and discussion around this topic continues, ultimately with health services carefully assessing the potential advantages and disadvantages of offering access to screening at an earlier age. The ultimate focus must be the wellbeing of the patient and ensuring they get effective and timely support when they need it the most. It is imperative that this issue is not determined just by attempts to reduce or limit expenditure"
Lisa Jordan, Partner