'Stop smoking' advice heeded during smears

Cervical smear appointments are an ideal time to encourage smokers to quit, UK researchers have said.

In a study comprising 242 smokers attending for cervical screening, practice nurses conducted the test or used the appointment as an opportunity to chat about the merits of smoking cessation.

When asked two and 10 weeks later, women given the advice were more likely to say they planned to quit smoking.

Of the women surveyed at 10-week follow-up, 15 per cent of those in the intervention group had given up, compared with 7 per cent of controls.

Smoking is known to double the risk of cervical cancer and predict treatment failure in women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.

Importantly, being given smoking cessation advice did not appear to deter women from attending cervical screening again.

A second study from New Zealand, published in the BJOG, has shown that older women and those with low levels of education had poorer cervical screening rates than other women.

The finding backs the NHS cervical screening programme, which uses a recall system to ensure women aged 25–64 have a smear test every three years.

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