AN online petition to lower the age of smear tests to 16 has broken the ePetition record by generating more than 300,000 signatures.

The petition has been set up by the family of Sophie Jones, a 19-year old from the Wirral who died of cancer earlier this month.

Sophie had complained of crippling stomach pain last February, but was denied a smear test because of her age.

Young Blackburn mother, Stacey Boyle, has urged people in East Lancashire to sign the petition after she was diagnosed with cin3 at the age of 24, after showing symptoms for six years.

However, Professor Julietta Patnick, director of the NHS cancer screening programmes, said: “Cervical cancer in women under the age of 25 is very rare, and it’s even rarer for a teenager to develop this form of cancer.

“Younger women often undergo natural and harmless changes in the cervix that screening would identify as abnormalities, and in most cases these abnormalities resolve themselves without any need for treatment.

“Evidence has shown that screening women under the age of 25 may do more harm than good.”