They will be sent to women aged 25-64 who are 15 months overdue for a check and live in London’s Barnet, Camden, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets, where screening attendance is low. Professor Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer, said: “This is an important new way to make screening easier for thousands of women. We know there are lots of reasons why women might not attend a screening appointment, including worries about Covid. “Home kits give thousands of women another option to keep up to date with their screening. We would urge every woman to make sure they have their smear test – the earlier HPV is detected the better. It could save your life.”
In the YouScreen trial, completed swabs are posted direct to a London lab with results sent back in the post and to GP surgeries.
If HPV is detected, women will be invited to do a standard test.
Dr Anita Lim, of King’s College London, who is leading the NHS study, called the move a “game-changer”.
She added: “It’s an intimate procedure and a variety of barriers can stop people from attending, even though it can be a life-saving test.
“This simple and convenient swab means it can be done in the privacy and comfort of your own home.”
Meanwhile, Macmillan Cancer Support says 50,000 people have been struck down by cancer during lockdown but not had a diagnosis – a figure set to double in 12 months.