The family of a woman who died from cervical cancer aged 25 has said the current age limit for smear tests should be lowered.
Amber Rose Cliff, a housing officer and business studies graduate from Sunderland, died last weekend after fighting the illness for four years.
Ms Cliff began experiencing worrying symptoms in her late teens, but was refused a screening by her GP numerous times because she was too young, said her brother Josh Cliff.
“We went for a private smear test when she was about 21, three years after she’d first been to the doctors,” Mr Cliff told local newspaper Chronicle Live.
“It turned out that the cancerous tumour in her cervix had been growing for years.”
Ms Cliff had chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but the cancer spread to her lungs and throat, by which point doctors were unable to help.
Smear tests are currently only given to those over 25.
Mr Cliff is calling for younger women to be given the option of being screened if they visit their GP with gynaecological complaints more than once.
However, Cancer Research UK’s health information officer warned that research shows screening women under 25 for cervical cancer can, on balance, “do more harm than good”.
“This is because cervical changes that screening detects in younger women tend to clear up by themselves and are less likely to develop into cancer, so screening may lead to unnecessary tests and treatment,” said Dr Jana Witt.
“Whatever your age or screening history, if you notice symptoms such as bleeding between periods, after sex, after the menopause, or any other unusual changes, it's really important to contact your GP and get them checked out.“
An online petition set up by Mr Cliff has gathered more than 66,000 signatures.
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