Woman, 26, who was ‘too young’ to be given a smear test dies from cervical cancer
- Becky Ryder visited her GP in 2010 aged 24 after bleeding abnormally
- But doctor refused request for smear test because she was under 25
- Eventually diagnosed with harmless cervical erosion and given treatment
- But bleeding returned so she visited another doctor who raised concerns
- After biopsy, Becky was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March 2011
- Despite chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she died February this year
A newlywed died of cervical cancer after being refused a smear test because she was deemed too young.
Becky Ryder was 24 when she visited her doctor with worrying symptoms – but was denied the simple procedure because she was under the minimum age of 25. It took months of repeated visits to her GP before she eventually saw another doctor, who diagnosed her with cancer.
Mrs Ryder began a gruelling course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy and at one stage was even told she had beaten the disease. But the cancer spread and she died at the age of 26. Yesterday her widower Paul paid tribute to his wife and described her attitude to the disease as ‘amazing’.
Mrs Ryder, from Bristol, first went to her doctor in September 2010, complaining of unexplained bleeding. A change to legislation means that in England regular smear tests are given only to women of 25 and over instead of the previous minimum age of 20, which still applies in Wales.
Mr Ryder, 35, said: ‘Becky wanted a smear test done and requested it but because she was under 25 at the time they said it would just get returned and they would not do it. ‘She was treated for cervical erosion and then it was just left. The bleeding did stop, but it came back again. She saw a different doctor then and they raised a few more concerns.’
Mrs Ryder, a chartered accountant, was finally diagnosed with cervical cancer following a biopsy in February 2011.
She immediately began radiotherapy and chemotherapy as well as undergoing fertility treatment to freeze her eggs in the hope she could later have a family. In September 2011, she was given the all-clear after scans showed no sign of the cancer.
‘It was quite a shock, but a good shock,’ said Mr Ryder, a golf professional and teacher. ‘Becky didn’t seem to believe it. She had a feeling something more was going on.’ A few months later her legs started to swell and, after returning to the doctors, scans showed the cancer was back. Mr Ryder said: ‘That’s when they said “Sorry, it’s terminal”. We still thought she could fight but even more chemotherapy couldn’t get rid of it.’
The couple, who would have celebrated their third wedding anniversary this year, tried to remain positive, but Mrs Ryder was admitted to St Peter’s Hospice, in Bristol, just before Christmas and died on February 14 this year. Mr Ryder said he later met a woman who also knew a victim of cervical cancer whose condition was not identified in time and had set up a charity.
The Mercedes Curnow Foundation For The Early Detection Of Cervical Cancer now campaigns for a reduction in the screening age to 20. It also funds private smear tests. But the Department of Health said routine screening of under-25s did ‘more harm than good’, giving too many false positive results that lead to needless treatment. Public health minister Anna Soubry added: ‘We now vaccinate girls with the HPV vaccine which protects against 70 per cent of cervical cancers.’
(Extracted from Mail Online)