THE FIRST TV advert urging women to book a smear test will air tonight – as ministers warn too many women are needlessly dying.
Uptake for life-saving cervical cancer checks is at a 20-year low, with embarrassment putting five million people off.
Health bosses warn two women a day are dying of cervical cancer as a result.
Public Health England is now launching a major new national campaign – Cervical Screening Saves Lives – to boost attendance for smear tests.
It will see a 30-second advert run during The Great Celebrity Bake Off tonight.
The new Government initiative follows The Sun’s hard-hitting #CheersForSmears campaign earlier this year.
Around three in ten women ignored their latest invitation.
The campaign will encourage women to attend, and visit their GP if they missed their last check.
Loose Women star Christine Lampard is backing the message and said she will encourage her daughter, Patsy, to get tested when she is older.
Mrs Lampard said: “I can’t say I’m thrilled when my cervical screening invite is posted through my door but I know how important it is that I get tested.
“It’s an awkward five minutes that could save your life.
“As a mother I will never ignore my screening invitation and when my daughter, Patsy, is old enough, I’ll encourage her to attend her screenings too.”
Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, with 690 dying.
But if everyone attended screening regularly, 83 per cent of cases could be prevented – saving 11 lives a week.
Steve Brine, Public Health Minister said: “It is a tragedy that women are needlessly dying of cancer when a simple test can identify any risks early on.
“We hope this new campaign – the first of its kind in this country – will save lives and I am delighted to see it launch today.”
All women aged 25 to 64 are invited for smear tests every three to five years.
The campaign is also being supported by charities including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Professor Anne Mackie, director of screening programmes at PHE, said: “The decline in numbers getting screened for cervical cancer is a major concern as it means millions of women are missing out on a potentially life-saving test.
“We want to see a future generation free of cervical cancer but we will only achieve our vision if women take up their screening invitations.
“This is a simple test which takes just five minutes and could save your life. It’s just not worth ignoring.”