A teenage model who died from cervical cancer this weekend was denied smear test for cervical cancer as doctors thought she was too young for the disease and the law does not allow a woman below 25 to undergo the test.
According to doctors, cervical cancer is extremely rare in women under 25. But Sophie Jones, 19, had severe stomach pain for months. And in spite of asking, she was not allowed to undergo smear test that would have diagnosed her cancer. Doctors said her pain was due to Crohn's disease. Her cervical cancer came to the fore in November 2013. But by then, the cancer had spread to other parts of her body and after a tough fight she died in March 2014.
Now, Sophie's mother Peri Cawley has launched a campaign to lower the screening age to 16. But there has been mixed response from different quarters. One group even believes that the age should not be lowered because when the woman is below 25 years, the changes are so great that testing proves pointless. One out three women below 25 years will show an abnormal result.
The petition to lower the screening age to 16 has received over 140,000 signatures. This could now help initiate a debate in Parliament. An issue can be picked up for a parliamentary debate it the petition related to it gets 100,000 signatures. In Scotland, the screening age for cervical cancer is 20.
Merseyside MPs have come together to make sure no more families have to undergo the pain that Sophie's have. Labour MP Alison McGovern, representing South Wirral constituency from where Sophie hailed, has supported the debate on cervical screening.
A Department of Health spokesperson said, "This is a tragic case. The issue was last debated in Parliament in 2009, but the best independent evidence still shows that routine screening of women under 25 does more harm than good."