SCREENING for any type of cancer is vital to give patients the best chance of catching the disease early and giving them a better prognosis.

But people are often reluctant to have tests carried out, possibly because they are scared of the results.

And figures show that the number of women having cervical screenings has dropped to a 20-year low, with one in four not taking the life-saving tests.

This is compounded further by people with disabilities who are unable to undergo screenings through no fault of their own because of accessibility problems at GP surgeries.

Mum-of-two Fiona Anderson, from Heaton, has muscular dystrophy and has never says she has never been able to have cervical cancer screening because of a lack of hoists at GP surgeries.

The equipment is vital so that disabled people can transfer safely on to medical examination tables. Instead, they have to to go hospitals for screenings, which is time consuming and puts added pressure on already-stretched resources.

The result of this could be catastrophic if people are unable to have cancer diagnosed at the earliest opportunity for the best possible chance of treatment to be successful.

Should cancer go undetected because of a lack of availability of screening, it would cost the health services more in time and money than in preventive measures such as early checks.