Call for cervical cancer virus test kit
Women should be given home testing kits as soon as possible for the virus that causes 99% of cervical cancer, a charity has said.
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust said the NHS should roll out home testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV) in a bid to diagnose more women with the disease at an earlier stage.
The charity made the call on the 10th anniversary of the death from cervical cancer of reality TV star Jade Goody at the age of 27.
On Wednesday, health bosses said they would pilot "self-sample" tests through the post in some parts of England.
Speaking to the Public Accounts Committee, the Government's former cancer tsar, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said self-testing has "great promise".
Figures show that in the months after Goody died in March 2009, about half a million extra women attended smear tests - known as the "Jade Goody effect".
But since then, screening rates have been falling.
And the latest data shows that as of the end of March last year, the percentage of eligible women screened adequately was just 71.4%.
Among younger women, screening rates are even worse, with just 61.1% of those aged 25 to 29 screened, and 68.8% of those aged 30 to 34.