Smear test age ‘must be lowered’

SURVIVOR: Becky Carroll is calling for a lower cervical cancer screening age after being diagnosed with the disease aged 25. (d303b305)
SURVIVOR: Becky Carroll is calling for a lower cervical cancer screening age after being diagnosed with the disease aged 25. (d303b305)

A cancer survivor is calling for the cervical screening age to be lowered after she was diagnosed with the disease aged just 25.

Rebecca Carroll, now 26, asked her doctor for a smear test three years ago but was turned away because currently testing starts at 25.

To her horror she was diagnosed with cervical cancer after her first test. Now Rebecca, who lives in Liversedge, has the all clear – and wants the testing age to be lowered to 20 to prevent other girls suffering.

She said: “I had no signs but I had a niggling thought something was wrong. I went to see my GP but they said I had to be 25 for a test. Last July, when I was 25, I went back for a test and the results were abnormal.”

Rebecca went to Dewsbury hospital for biopsies. She said: “During the examination the nurse’s face changed and I just knew.”

Six days later she was called back. “The nurse told me I had one of the worst cases of cervical cancer she had seen. It just didn’t seem real,” she said.

Rebecca had treatment and then decided to go home and back to work, thinking she was okay, but severe bleeding and pain meant she was taken to A&E. Her results showed the cancer was still there and she was referred to Leeds St James’s Hospital.

She said: “The consultant wanted me to have a hysterectomy but I want children, so they just removed my cervix and 22 lymph nodes. This means there is more chance of it coming back, but I will cross that bridge if I come to it. Being pregnant is very important to me.”

Rebecca was discharged after five days but again became seriously ill. When she returned for her results the doctor said the cancer had been removed, but she was too ill to go home.

She said: “They had got all the cancer but I was still so poorly. I was confused and I had a seizure.”

Tests revealed she had contracted a blood infection and was admitted for six days.

She said: “After I was discharged I started to get better, but then I became depressed. However my friends and family, especially my mum and sister, have been brilliant.

“It’s like a bad dream. I don’t want anybody to go through what I went through.If I’d had my smear at 23 I probably would never have gone through this.

“The age should be 20. The test is a bit embarrassing but it’s over quickly and it could save your life.”