However, figures show women across England are still regularly skipping the straightforward procedures, with fear, embarrassment, or a lack of understanding of what they involve among the reasons why, according to Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.
Currently in full swing, the charity's annual Cervical Screening Awareness Week aims to highlight the importance of regular screenings and help those with concerns about getting the tests.
Screenings, also known as ‘smear tests’, are offered to women aged 25-49, while those aged 50-64 receive their invitations every five years. A small sample of cells is taken and checked for pre-cancerous abnormalities.
This was in line with the end of 2020, but a decrease from 79 per cent in December 2019.
Rates varied between the age groups last year – 79 per cent of eligible women aged 50-64 had been screened as of the end of December, compared with 76 per cent those aged 25-49.
Across England, 70 per cent of eligible women had an adequate screening by the end of 2021, against a national target of 80 per cent. In 2019, the figure stood at 72 per cent.
Samantha Dixon, trust chief executive, said: “There is no-one reason behind falling cervical screening attendance, instead a wide range of factors exist.
“These include NHS pressures, fear, embarrassment and not knowing what the test is for or thinking it is relevant.
“The awareness week is the ideal time to provide tips, reminders and signpost to support about the test, but work is needed all year round to tackle barriers and support more women and people with a cervix to attend this potentially life-saving test.”
About 2,700 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year and about 690 women die from the disease, according to NHS statistics which pre-date the coronavirus pandemic – but Cancer Research UK estimates cervical screening saves at least 2,000 lives annually in the UK.