A 25-year-old cancer patient is calling for cervical screening to start at the age of 18 after she was diagnosed three weeks before her first appointment.
Amy Anderson, from Gateshead, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March this year having just become eligible for a smear test.
She had been experiencing abdominal pain, fatigue and passing blood clots, but claims she was reassured it wasn't serious.
Eventually, she was referred to a gynaecologist when a nurse flagged something must be seriously wrong.
A week later, she was told she had an advanced form of the disease caused by the HPV virus.
Miss Anderson froze her eggs in the hopes of one day becoming a mother, before enduring eight weeks of treatment.
Amy Anderson, from Gateshead, is calling for the age of cervical screening to start at 18 after being diagnosed three weeks before her first appointment at the age of 25
Miss Anderson was diagnosed with an advanced form of the disease in March this year three weeks before she was eligible to have a smear test. Pictured having treatment
Miss Anderson, pictured with her partner, Gareth Wilson, 25, froze her eggs before having eight rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy
She said: 'Cancer isn't waiting patiently for you to turn 25. If I'd had the smear test when I was younger I may not be at the stage I am now.
'I think people feel they don't need to think about it until they are 25-years-old.
'But it's not like it can't happen before then. Lowering the age women are offered the smear test could save the lives of countless women.'
A smear test detects abnormal cells on the cervix, which is the entrance to the uterus from the vagina, and can lead to further investigations.
Women are invited to have them from the age of 25 - but Miss Anderson said this should be lowered to 18.
There are roughly 3,200 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed every year, according to Cancer Research, and 854 deaths.
Almost 100 per cent of cases are preventable with screening, vaccinations and contraception to avoid infections.
Miss Anderson, a paralegal at the time, decided to go to the walk-in medical centre in late February.
She had already tried to book a doctor's appointment after suffering with symptoms that had persisted for a couple of weeks.
But she claims she was told by her GP's receptionist it was 'not necessary', and when she called 111 she was advised to 'get some sleep and take some paracetamol'.
Miss Anderson said: 'I thought I was being stupid.
'But after I went to the walk in centre I started to get the feeling something was wrong straight away.
'The nurse was asking me questions and I was answering yes to all of them.
'I was referred to the gynaecologist down the corridor. I didn't have to wait at all. That started alarm bells because I usually have to wait hours.
'I thought, no, it can't be me, as you do. I'm only 25.'
Miss Anderson 'thought she was being stupid' because she claims she was told by her GP's receptionist it was 'not necessary' to see a doctor with her symptoms
Miss Anderson, pictured graduating from Northumbria University in 2016, said: 'Cancer isn't waiting patiently for you to turn 25'
Miss Anderson was diagnosed with cervical cancer at Stage 2B cervical cancer, meaning it had spread outside her cervix to surrounding tissue. Pictured in hospital
Up to eight out of 10 people will be infected with HPV in their lives
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body.
Spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex and skin-to-skin contact between genitals, it is extremely common.
Up to eight out of 10 people will be infected with the virus at some point in their lives.
There are more than 100 types of HPV. Around 30 of which can affect the genital area. Genital HPV infections are common and highly contagious.
Many people never show symptoms, as they can arise years after infection, and the majority of cases go away without treatment.
It can lead to genital warts, and is also known to cause cervical cancer by creating an abnormal tissue growth.
Annually, an average of 38,000 cases of HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in the US, 3,100 cases of cervical cancer in the UK and around 2,000 other cancers in men.
HPV can also cause cancers of the throat, neck, tongue, tonsils, vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It can take years for cancer to