Today marks the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2018 brought to you by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer trust is the only charity in the UK that is dedicated to women affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities with a mission that wants to see cervical cancer prevented and reduce the impact for everyone affected by cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer through providing the highest quality information and support, and campaigning for excellence in cervical cancer treatment and prevention. [cite]
This year the theme running across the week is; reduce your risk!
Many are unaware but a massive 75% of cervical cancers can actually be prevented.
With 2 women losing their lives to cervical cancer daily and a further 9 being diagnosed, it is important that every woman knows how they can reduce their own risk.
- Attend cervical screenings (smear tests) when invited.
Usually a letter is sent home inviting you to test. When you ring up to book a suitable appointment time, it is advise that you chose a date in the middle of your period (14 days from the start of your last period) so that the most effective sample of cells can be taken.
The screening involves the doctor or nurse inserting an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum effectively holds the vaginal walls open so the cervix is exposed.
A small brush will then be used to sweep the cervix, collecting cell samples along the way.
Provided you are relaxed, the procedure should not hurt but you may experience some discomfort.
Should you experience any pain, let the person conducting the test, know.
The cells are sent off to a lab and changes in the cells collected are looked for.
If any abnormalities are found, the sample will automatically be tested for HPV.
Whilst there are over 100 different types of HPV, some are considered to be a high risk for cervical cancer hence why HPV testing is incorporated into the cervical screen test provided by the NHS.
If HPV is not detected, then depending on the significance of the changes found in the cells, you may be referred for a colposcopy, if HPV is found, then you will most definitely be referred for one.
- Know the symptoms of cervical cancer
It is important to know that cervical cancer does not always present any symptoms until the disease advances however, vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom, usually occurring after sex but bleeding outside of your monthly period, is also considered abnormal and should always be checked out.
Other early symptoms include an unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge and/or pain and discomfort during sex.
It is also important to note, a HPV vaccination is available for 11-18 year olds
So, if you’re reading this and you’ve been dodging that smear test through fear or other reasons, now is as good a time as any to get on the blower and book that appointment.
Equally, if you know a friend or a family member that hasn’t been screened, why not encourage them to do so too!
Shockingly, 1 in 4 women do not go for a smear test when invited.
Awareness and understanding is crucial in the prevention of cervical cancer.
Use the hashtag; #SmearForSmear to get involved with the discussion online