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Graduate who died of cervical cancer at 21 was told she was too young for smear tests

  • Amber Rose Cliff died after being diagnosed with cervical cancer aged just 21
  • Family say she was refused smear test for being too young despite pleas for one
  • After three years Miss Cliff got a test done privately and received her diagnosis
  • She received chemotherapy and radiotherapy but died four years later aged 25
  • Her family have started a petition to give young women option for a smear test

By Sam Tonkin For Mailonline

Published: 04:15 EST, 11 January 2017 | Updated: 14:06 EST, 11 January 2017

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Tragic: Amber Rose Cliff's family say she had repeatedly begged to have a smear test but was refused for being too young. She died of cervical cancer four years after her diagnosis Tragic: Amber Rose Cliff's family say she had repeatedly begged to have a smear test but was refused for being too young. She died of cervical cancer four years after her diagnosis

Tragic: Amber Rose Cliff's family say she had repeatedly begged to have a smear test but was refused for being too young. She died of cervical cancer four years after her diagnosis

The family of a university graduate who died after being diagnosed with cervical cancer aged just 21 say she had repeatedly begged to have a smear test but was refused for being too young.

Amber Rose Cliff visited her GP at Ashburn Medical Centre, in Sunderland, up to 20 times complaining of sickness and severe bleeding.

There she is said to have made several requests for a smear test but her family claim she was refused screening because it is only offered on the NHS to women over the age of 25.

After three years, Miss Cliff decided to go to the Spire Hospital in Washington, Tyne and Wear, to get a test done privately.

It was there she received the devastating news that she had been suffering from cervical cancer for several years.

Despite treatment she died four years later at the age of 25.

Her heartbroken brother Josh, 27, who has started a petition calling for young women to be given the option for a smear test under the age of 25, 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.'

Miss Cliff, who worked as a housing officer, received two rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle.

But the cancer spread to her lungs and throat and she passed away on Sunday.

Amber Rose Cliff, who tragically died of cervical cancer  aged 25, pictured with brother Josh Amber Rose Cliff, who tragically died of cervical cancer  aged 25, pictured with brother Josh

Amber Rose Cliff, who tragically died of cervical cancer aged 25, pictured with brother Josh

Miss Cliff visited her GP at Ashburn Medical Centre, in Sunderland, up to 20 times complaining of sickness and severe bleeding Miss Cliff visited her GP at Ashburn Medical Centre, in Sunderland, up to 20 times complaining of sickness and severe bleeding
She requested a smear test but was refused She requested a smear test but was refused

Pleas: Miss Cliff visited her GP at Ashburn Medical Centre, in Sunderland, up to 20 times complaining of sickness and severe bleeding. She requested a smear test but was refused

Family: Miss Cliff is pictured left alongside her sister Cameron and 27-year-old brother Josh Family: Miss Cliff is pictured left alongside her sister Cameron and 27-year-old brother Josh

Family: Miss Cliff is pictured left alongside her sister Cameron and 27-year-old brother Josh

Mr Cliff, 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.'

Miss Cliff's family have now started a petition for young women to be given the option of having a smear test under the age of 25 Miss Cliff's family have now started a petition for young women to be given the option of having a smear test under the age of 25

Miss Cliff's family have now started a petition for young women to be given the option of having a smear test under the age of 25

He says that instead of offering her a test NHS doctors told his sister, who was bleeding heavily, that her symptoms were due to the pill, her hormones due to her age or a water infection.

After Miss Cliff's death, her brother 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 gynaecological complaints.

Although they have already gathered 35,000 signatures on the online petition, the family still need another 65,000 signatures before 'Amber's Law' can be considered in Parliament.

Mr Cliff 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.

'We just need 100,000 signatures before we can take the petition to Parliament - and then hopefully we can be heard and make a change.'

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.'

To sign the petition for 'Amber's Law', click here. 

CERVICAL CANCER SCREENING SAVES 2,000 PEOPLE EVERY YEAR

Every woman in Britain is invited for cervical cancer screening – known as a smear test – between the ages of 25 and 64.

The test, involves removing cells from the cervix and examining them for abnormalities.

If someone tests positive, they are sent for an examination to definitively check if they have the disease.

If they are diagnosed with cancer, the affected parts are removed either with laser or freezing treatment.

Some 3,200 women develop the cancer in Britain each year, and the disease kills nearly 1,000. But experts think another 2,000 women would die every year without the programme.

In 2004, the start age for screening was raised from 20 to 25 because the disease seldom affects women so young.

But the death of Jade Goody from cervical cancer aged 27 in 2009 led to calls to lower the screening age again.

However, the development of a vaccine for HPV, which was rolled out to all British schoolgirls from 2008, is thought to have allayed some concerns.

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