A woman who was told she was six months pregnant when in fact she had a grapefruit-sized cancerous tumour is campaigning for a lower age limit for cervical smear tests.
Brave Sophie Evans, 22, battled cancer six years ago after initially being told she was expecting a baby.
Doctors delivered the shock news in June 2010 when Sophie was aged 16.
But a midwife was unable to hear the baby’s heartbeat and a pregnancy test came back negative.
Sophie was rushed from the maternity unit to the emergency department at the former University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
Doctors discovered a tumour in her stomach measuring 10cm (4ins) by 20cm (8ins), and Sophie began nine weeks of gruelling chemotherapy treatment to battle the cancer.
But Sophie has now been told she cannot have a smear test because she is not 25.
Although Sophie had a smear test when she was first diagnosed with the cancer, she is now being refused the test despite suffering similar symptoms five years later.
Sophie still has regular hospital checks after her ordeal and worries the cancer may return.
After becoming lethargic, she asked doctors at Moss Green Surgery, in Bentilee, for the test due to fears of the cancer returning.
But doctors refused to carry out the test as Sophie is 22 – and cervical screening is only offered to women over 25.
Sophie, from Bentilee, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., said: “It’s just upsetting that when I have some of the symptoms of cervical cancer and past experience of cancer, I can’t have a smear test.
“My GP surgery offered me a swab, but that only picks up infections.
“A smear test actually goes right inside and can check for things like cervical cancer.
“To me, it’s clear what I needed.
“My protein levels were high, I was getting lethargic.
“These are all warning signs.
“Women who are under the age of 25 should be able to have a smear test if they want it.
“They are not just asking for a laugh or to waste the NHS’s time.”
Recalling the cancer diagnosis as a teenager, Sophie said: “I knew I wasn’t pregnant as there was no way I could have been. But it was confusing because I had all the symptoms
“The thought that the tumour was squashing my vital organs was terrifying.
“But hospital was amazing.”
“I don’t think the NHS needs to make smear tests mandatory for everybody, but they should oblige if people under the age limit ask.”
Best friend Becky Leigh, a 22-year-old care assistant, from Bentilee, said: “It’s disgusting that the NHS won’t let Sophie have a smear test.”
High-profile campaigns have previously been lodged to try to persuade the Government to lower the age for smear tests.
Her calls have been backed by Michele Brackley, whose 23-year-old daughter Claire
Allan, of Cross Heath, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs., died in 2009 from cervical cancer before she could have a smear test.
Michele, 49, launched a petition calling for Parliament to lower the age limit to 20.
She said: “If the patient has any symptoms, the GP should be under a duty to refer them to a specialist.
“Young girls shouldn’t have to be fighting for this”
Latest figures show around 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year – with a sixth of them under 25.
Staff at Moss Green Surgery refused to comment on Sophie’s case.
But a Department of Health spokesman said: “Evidence shows screening women under the age of 25 can do more harm than good, which is why lowering the age is not something that’s being considered.”