20th-26th January 2020 is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
Medigold Health’s Trainee Occupational Health Physician, Yvette Martin, discusses the importance of cervical screening and what your workplace can do to help prevent the disease.
It’s been over 10 years since the death of reality TV star Jade Goody who spoke publically about her experience of cervical cancer.
She died in March 2009 just seven months after receiving her diagnosis. Following Jade’s death England saw a surge in the uptake of cervical screening deemed the “Jade Goody effect”. Sadly, the uptake plateaued and over recent years there has been a decline in the number of women attending cervical screening.
What is cervical cancer screening?
The cervix is the opening to a woman’s womb from the vagina, cervical screening is undertaken to help prevent cancer of the cervix. Women between the ages of 25 and 64 will be invited to a smear test, which involves taking a small sample of cells to test for abnormal changes. Picking up these changes at an early point means that monitoring and treatment can take place with an aim to prevent cervical cancer.
Cervical screening can prevent 75% of cervical cancer, a condition that kills three women daily in the UK. Women aged 25 to 49 are invited for screening at 3 year intervals and women aged 50 to 64 are invited every 5 years.
Data from Public Health England published in June 2019, found that just 71% of women aged 25-49 had an adequate screening test in the previous 3.5 years, meaning more than 1 in 4 women in this age group are missing their smear tests. With the uptake being as low as 48.6% in one particular area.
If screening attendance continues to fall then there will be a rise in diagnoses and deaths from cervical cancer.
What can your workplace do to help?
The charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust have recommended that workplaces can help their female staff members to attend their screening appointments by allowing them time to attend when they are unable to get an appointment outside of working hours.
They call the initiative Time to Test, workplaces can download a Time to Test pack by clicking here.
The workplace can be the perfect place to raise awareness of cervical cancer and highlight the importance of attending screening. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has a wealth of posters, factsheets and information booklets about cervical cancer and cervical screening. These can be distributed in waiting areas, female washrooms, the company’s newsletter, staff intranet or on noticeboards. You can order a free Cervical Cancer Prevention Week pack by clicking here.
You can also direct staff members to the Jo’s Trust Helpline 0808 802 8000 if they need confidential information or support.