An annual campaign aimed at raising awareness of cervical cancer and encouraging women to attend smear tests has launched today.
Figures released by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust have revealed that the UK has one of the worst survival rates for the disease - with diagnoses rising by 4%.
So, for the second year running, the Trust is launching its #SmearForSmear selfie campaign which calls for more women to attend routine cervical screenings, and increase awareness of the damage cervical cancer can cause.
Cervical Cancer Awareness Week runs from today until Saturday; and it is hoped that the charity's efforts will lead to increase in smear test attendance.
One in four women in the UK are reported to not attend their tests when invited - and the Trust's figures show that a 27% reduction in deaths could be achieved over five years if the amount of women attending their screenings could reach 85%. This would also lead to a reduction in diagnoses.
Further to this, one in three among 25 to 29-year-olds do not attend their appointments.
Screening figures specifically for South Tyneside show that only 74.8% of women aged between 25 and 64 attended their screenings in 2014/15. The screening uptake for women between 25 and 29, a key target group, had dropped to 72.4% during this same period. In 2013/14 the number of women (25 to 64) attending smears was no different.
Women and men alike are being asked to take to social media, don their lipstick and smear it across their faces before sharing a selfie. Its launch last year attracted the backing of celebrities and politicians alike - and this year, we want our readers to get involved too.
So, what are you waiting for? Apply that lipstick, smear away, get snapping and share with us using #SmearForSmear. We will put together all of your pictures, and share them as the week goes on.
Find our social media below, and click on the links to share your pictures.
Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Cervical cancer is a preventable disease and we cannot afford for incidences to keep rising.
"So it is a matter of urgency that we see positive actions to turn around the downward trend in cervical screening uptake and we are urging policy makers and health professionals to increase investment in targeted approaches to tackle barriers to screening for women of every age, ethnicity, location and circumstance.”
The charity's week-long initiative is also calling on public health leads, commissioners and the Government to make prevention of the disease a priority both nationally and locally.