A petition calling for the Welsh Government to drop changes to how regularly women will have cervical cancer checks already has more than 600,000 signatures.

It comes shortly after reports that women aged 25-50 will have to wait five rather than three years for cervical cancer checks, providing they do not have HPV cells identified in a screening.

According to Public Health for Cervical Screening Wales, this is because the testing regime is becoming more "effective", making it "safe to extend the time between screenings".

However, this has not stopped a petition on change.org by Rachel Paul to the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales hitting over 150,000 signatures in under 24 hours after starting on January 4, and is still rising. The petition currently has just over 600,000 signatures.

The petition states: "On average 3,197 cases of cervical cancer are discovered each year with 854 deaths between 2016-2018, with only 51% surviving this type of cancer for more than 10 years.

"99.8% of cervical cancer cases are preventable (according to cancer research UK). Increasing the length of time between cervical screening is putting lives at risk!"

In England, the first invitation is sent to eligible people at the age of 24.5 years. People aged 25-49 receive invitations every three years. People aged 50-64 receive invitations every five years.

Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS commented on the petition.

He said: "While I am pleased to see HPV checks become more reliable and effective, I find it difficult to see why this change is necessary.

"Once every three years is hardly a burden on women who want peace-of-mind and should not be one for NHS.

"The way this petition has taken off and the strength of feeling out there should surely force the Government to at least re-consider the changes they propose to make regarding these life-saving checks."

Public Health Wales has issued an apology over social media for not giving out enough information and have provided some clarification.

Dr Sharon Hillier PhD FFPH, Director of Screening Division for Public Health Wales, said: "Public Health Wales is aware of concerns about changes to cervical screening in Wales. We take these concerns very seriously, and we are sorry we haven't done enough to explain these changes.

"These changes are safe. They are based on recommendations from the UK National Screening Committee, which have already been implemented in Scotland.

"Following these changes, people with high-risk HPV will be followed up more closely and more regularly than with the previous method of testing, while women with no HPV will not have to attend cervical screening for five years.

"We would not consider, implement or advocate for any changes to screening that would cause harm to women and people with a cervix in Wales. Attending your smear test when invited is the best way to protect yourself."

More information is available on the Public Health Wales website at www.phw.nhs.wales/CSWChanges