Wirral Family's Smear Test Campaign

A Wirral-based campaign to try and lower the age women can have smear tests in gathering momentum.

It follows the death of Sophie Jones from Eastham from cervical cancer. 

The 19 year old, who passed away on Saturday, suffered crippling stomach pains for a over a year before she was initially diagnosed with Crohn's disease, it is claimed. 

But in November, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer - which may have been picked up had the authorities listened to her pleas for a smear test, her family said. 

An online petition set up in her memory is calling for the age that someone can get a smear test to be lowered to 16. 

The petition, named Sophie's Choice, was set up by family friend Pamela Keelan who claims "our Sophie has been failed in the worst way''. 

Cancer Research UK said cervical screening is very important as it is one of the few cancers that is preventable due to it being possible to pick up abnormal cell changes before they have a chance to develop into a cancer. 

The organisation notes that cervical cancer is very rare before the age of 25 but that changes in the cervix are quite common in younger women. 

Cancer Research UK said those between 25 and 60 will be contacted by the NHS cervical screening programme for a test. 

The exact age groups for screening varies slightly between the different United Kingdom countries. 

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, women between the ages of 25 and 64 are screened. 

Screening for those aged between 25 and 49 years old is every three years and it is every five years for those who are aged between 50 and 64 years, Cancer Research UK notes. 

In Scotland, women between 20 and 60 years are invited for screening every three years. 

A Department of Health spokesman, who described this as "a very tragic case'', said: "The issue has been debated in Parliament, but the best independent evidence still shows that routine screening of women under 25 does more harm than good. 

"Instead we now vaccinate girls with the HPV vaccine which protects against 70% of cervical cancers. 

"Women with symptoms of cervical cancer, like unusual bleeding, are advised to see a doctor straight away for tests to investigate their symptoms. We have given doctors advice on what to do when younger people come to them with cervical cancer symptoms.''