Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Change Could Save So Many; the Government Has Refused to Lower the Screening Age for Cervical Cancer to 20 despite a Campaign Spearheaded in the North East. Reporter LINDA RICHARDS Talks to the Grieving Father Whose Daughter's Dying Wish Was to See the Age Cut from 25

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Change Could Save So Many; the Government Has Refused to Lower the Screening Age for Cervical Cancer to 20 despite a Campaign Spearheaded in the North East. Reporter LINDA RICHARDS Talks to the Grieving Father Whose Daughter's Dying Wish Was to See the Age Cut from 25

Article excerpt

Byline: LINDA RICHARDS

CLAIRE Walker Everett was 23 when she died of cervical cancer last September, two years too young for a smear test that could have saved her life.

The mum launched a petition that received support from around the world and sparked a national campaign.

But this week the Government announced that after a review the minimum testing age will stay at 25. The decision has angered Claire's parents Bob and Lyn Walker, from Washington.

Mr Walker, 56, a bricklayer, said: "This is a blow but we will continue to fight on with the campaign started by Claire. Even at 20 we are still above other countries who start at 18 or younger. Luxembourg is 15, New Zealand, Australia and America are 18.

"Cervical cancer is about the most preventable cancer and, if you catch it early enough and you can find the abnormal cells, it can be treated.'' The Independent Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening carried out a review and agreed the testing age should not be dropped because earlier screenings could do "more harm than good'' causing too many false positives.

Mr Walker said: "When we handed Claire's petition in we asked Health Minister Ann Keen, who comes from a medical background, her medical opinion on what harm a smear does to a girl and she said none.

"How many girls have died from a smear test? The answer is none. But how many girls have died because they didn't get a smear test? We don't know because there have been no figures since 2003.

"They say not many girls die under 25 but even one is too many.

If a girl develops cervical cancer at 23 or 24 but unfortunately dies after she is 25 her death will not go into those statistics.'' Claire battled to raise awareness about the issue despite her increasing bad health.

Mr Walker said: "The pain from cervical cancer is excruciating. …

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