By Daniel Martin
Last updated at 1:04 AM on 04th March 2010
Thousands of young women with possible symptoms of cervical cancer are having their chances of survival put at risk by GPs who do not examine them properly, the cancer czar warned yesterday.
Professor Mike Richards said that family doctors are failing to give women who suffer from abnormal bleeding a full pelvic examination, which could speed up diagnosis of the disease.
Instead, GPs are sending patients for a smear test, which can result in diagnosis and treatment being delayed for weeks.
Professor Richards, the Department of Health’s clinical director for cancer, said that every year 15,000 women aged 20 to 24 were missing out on the pelvic examinations they should be having.
He unveiled guidance for doctors which stipulate that everyone in this age group with abnormal bleeding should have the full examination rather than a smear.
At present, around 50 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in this age group every year.
Overall, 1,000 women die of cervical cancer annually in Britain.
The new guidance follows the death of Big Brother star Jade Goody last year from the disease.
Jacqui Graves, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘We welcome new guidance recommending that GPs fast-track women for an immediate full pelvic examination on all suspected cases of cervical cancer.’