WOMEN are being urged to ensure they have a 'lifesaving' screening test - as figures show Dorset has one of the lowest uptakes in the country.

Around one in four women aged 25 to 29 who are eligible for cervical screening have not been to their GP to have the simple test done, according to figures from NHS England.

It comes as one Dorset woman urges people to get tested, saying the screening without doubt, saved my life'.

The woman, who wanted to be known only as Sarah, was diagnosed with Stage One Cervical Cancer in 2012, at the age of 43.

She said: "I have never missed an appointment and so when I was called for one in 2012, I went without hesitation. The appointment only took a few minutes and by the time I had chatted with the nurse about the weather, it was all over.

"Unfortunately, this time my results came back as abnormal and I was quickly referred for further tests. I was very lucky as the cancer was picked up so early I only needed surgery, I didn’t need any further treatment. From diagnosis to surgery was just a month, everything happened very quickly."

She added: "If I could give any women a message about screening, I would say ‘Go, don’t leave it’. The sooner anything suspicious is picked up, the better the outcome. If I had ignored my appointment the world would have one less daughter, sister and mother.”

Every day nine women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer and two women lose their lives to the disease. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 but is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination.

Experts believe embarrassment and a lack of understanding about the causes of cervical cancer may be behind the fall in the number of women attending appointments.

Dr Liz Mearns, Medical Director based in NHS England’s Southampton office said: "The first girls who were vaccinated against HPV are now eligible for screening as they reach their 25th birthday. Although they are protected against the two most common HPV types that cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers, the risk is not completely eliminated and screening is still an important part of preventing cancer.”

NHS England and Public Health England are supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which runs from January 22-28.

Dr Mearns added: “It is really important for women to understand the importance of attending cervical screening when they receive a letter from their GP as it can detect pre-cancer abnormalities, which, if left untreated, may develop into cancer. Screening is for people without symptoms as a preventative measure.

“The screening test is relatively simple, takes about 5 minutes and is performed by the Practice Nurse at your GP Surgery. I urge women who may have received a letter and decided not to attend to reconsider and make an appointment – it really is very quick, it could prevent you needing more invasive treatment later on and could ultimately save your life.”