A cervical cancer survivor is urging women to not miss their smear tests during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week this week.

Mum-of-one Kelly Mackie, from Barnstaple, only discovered she had early stage cervical cancer when she went for a routine smear test in May last year.

In August Kelly underwent surgery to remove the cancerous cells and has now had the all clear, but had it not been for the smear test, she might not have known about the cancer until the chances were much slimmer.

But despite this, NHS figures show some 40,000 women in Devon did not attend their last smear test in 2018.

The take-up rate for cervical screenings in Devon has fallen for the third consecutive year.

Only 76.3 per cent of the 189,300 women who were due a smear test before the end of March attended an appointment.

This means around 44,830 women missed out on the 'life-saving' programme.

Kelly said: “Without the NHS offering free cervical screening this post could be a whole lot different for me.

READ MORE: MORE THAN 40,000 WOMEN MISSED THEIR LAST SMEAR TEST

“My cancer was treatable thankfully. A smear test could quite literally save your life.

“So why put it off? I am forever grateful that I now get to see my precious son grow up and he has his mum too.”

Kelly also urged men to make sure their girlfriends, wife, sister, friends and mum are up to date with their screening, and break the taboo of the subjecy.

“Do not wait for symptoms - I didn't have any that really stood out as anything abnormal or alarming, this is why the system is in place,” added Kelly.

“Do not say you can't attend because you're 'too busy' or ' can't get time off work'.

READ MORE: CANCER SURVIVOR IS URGING TEAMS TO GET BEHIND 12-HOUR PROWLER PUSH

“I can guarantee you'd rather take half hour off work for your screening than months and months off for treatment, if God forbid, you'd have to receive it.

“From the bottom of my heart, please please please attend.

“Value your previous life. Do it for yourself and for everyone that loves you and for those beautiful children that depend on you.”

Cervical screening is a test that looks for changes in the cells of the cervix which could develop into cancer.

Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited for a screening every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 attend every five years.

If they do not have a test within six months of their latest invitation they are counted as not having attended.

In Devon, the younger age group were significantly less likely to be up to date with their tests.

Just 75.1 per cent of 25 to 40-year-olds had attended their last appointment before the end of March compared to 78.1 per cent of 50 to 64-year-olds.