A young woman has died after being diagnosed with cervical cancer – after she was previously refused a smear test for being too young.
Amber Rose Cliff was diagnosed with cervical cancer at just 21, her family say she had begged for smear tests – but was refused because of her age.
Ms Cliff’s family claim she visited her local doctors at Ashburn Medical Centre, in Sunderland, up to 20 times after complaining of sickness and severe bleeding.
She made several requests for a smear test but the young graduate’s family claim she was refused screening because it is only offered on the NHS to women over the age of 25.
After three years, Amber and her family decided to go to the Spire Hospital in Washington, Tyne and Wear, to get a test done privately.
After an examination, it was discovered she had been suffering from cervical cancer for several years and despite treatment she has sadly passed away four years later at the age of just 25.
Her heartbroken brother Josh, 27, who has started a petition calling for young women to be tested, said: ‘If Amber had a smear test sooner then the cancer might have been caught in time, and we wouldn’t have lost her like this.
‘She asked for smear tests multiple times, but was told that she couldn’t have one because she was too young.
‘We decided to get her one privately to put her mind at ease – but when we got the results it did the opposite. They told her that she had cervical cancer – but by this point she had already had it for two to four years without knowing.’
Amber, who graduated from the University of Sunderland and worked as a housing officer, battled the disease for a further four years, receiving two rounds of chemo and radiotherapy in the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle.
Tragically, the cancer spread to her lungs and throat, and she sadly passed away on Sunday January 8, aged 25.
Josh, an electrician, added: ‘While she was undergoing treatment she didn’t tell anyone because she didn’t want loads of people giving her sympathy.
‘She just carried on as if nothing was wrong and she lived quite an exciting life.
‘She went on holidays, became a godparent and was a bridesmaid. She never wanted to show anything was wrong – but the cancer spread like wildfire through her body.’
Josh says that instead of offering her a test, doctors told Amber that her symptoms were due to the pill, her hormones or a water infection.
Following Amber’s death, Josh and his family decided to start a petition calling for women between 18-25 to be given the option of having a smear test if they have visited their GP twice with similar symptoms.
Although they have already gathered 35,000 signatures on the online petition, the family still need another 81,105 signatures before ‘Amber’s Law’ can be considered in Parliament.
Josh added: ‘I know that people have tried countless times to get the smear test age legally lowered to 18, but Amber’s Law is different.
‘Amber’s Law applies to women under the age of 25. It gives them the option to have a screening if they request it, but it doesn’t make testing obligatory.’
A spokesperson for Public Health England in the North East said: ‘The routine cervical screening programme is for women who, at the time of taking the test, are not known to have any cervical cancer related symptoms.
‘It would be inappropriate for us to comment on specific cases of cervical cancer where the full medical history is not known however our thoughts are with Amber’s family and friends at this very sad time.’
Dr Claire Bradford, Medical Director for NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group added: ‘We are very sorry to hear about the loss of Amber and our thoughts are with her family and friends.
‘Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on an individual case, but we would always advise patients to speak to their GP if they are experiencing any of symptoms which they are concerned about.’
Source: The Metro