A recent study in the UK identified that the number of women going for their cervical screening test is at its lowest in over a decade.
On average, 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 2 women lose their lives to the disease daily in the UK. Despite these alarming statistics 1 in 4 women are not attending their cervical screening tests, with embarrassment sited as the main reason for missing the test (80% of women) and fear of pain a close second (69%).
Cervical screening is crucial in the early detection of cervical cancer. The test is usually performed at your GP surgery and takes around 5 minutes. Whilst it may cause mild discomfort it is usually pain free and the Nurse or Doctor is on hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Your cervical screening test would be complete in the time it has taken you to read this far, bear that in mind if you find yourself siting ‘lack of time’ as a reason to avoid your screening.
Screening means testing women for early stages of the illness before they have any symptoms, this allows any abnormalities to detected early and an effective treatment plan to be put in place.
Cervical screening is a way of preventing cancer by finding and treating abnormal cell changes in the neck of the womb (cervix). These changes could lead to cancer if left untreated.
At the smear test, a nurse or doctor takes a sample of cells from the cervix with a small brush. They send the sample to a laboratory to check for abnormalities.
In some cases, the samples are also tested for the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus increases the risk of cervical cancer.
The NHS cervical screening programme invites women from ages 25 to 64 for cervical screening. Women aged 25 to 49 are invited every 3 years. After that, women are invited every 5 years until the age of 64.
You need to be registered with a GP to get your screening invitation, if you haven’t received this please don’t wait, contact your surgery.
You usually get the results within 2 to 6 weeks. If you get a call back please don’t panic it doesn’t mean it is cancer. Arrange the follow-up appointment and discuss your concerns with your Doctor or Nurse.
Jo’s cervical cancer trust is also a great source of information they also have a dedicated helpline to answer any questions you may have. Helpline: 0808 802 8000
The smear is quick and effective and while we appreciate that for some women there is an element of embarrassment involved, it really can be a matter of life or death.
Don’t think about it, book it!