Cervical Cancer Prevention Week
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is an annual awareness week aiming to encourage women to take potentially life saving smear tests. The theme for this year’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is “Reduce Your Risk”.
With 75% of cervical cancers being prevented from developing, a smear test is an excellent way to reduce your risk. Shockingly 1 in 4 women didn’t turn up for their smear test when invited.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35, but shockingly 1 in 3 women aged 25-29 don’t attend their appointment.
“No one ever died of embarrassment…”
Two local women are encouraging local women to have their smear test done. They are encouraging women to not be embarrassed for the sake of their health.
The NHS runs a Cervical Screening Programme, which invites women aged 25 to 49 to a cervical screening. For women aged 25-49 it’s every three years, women aged 50-64 is every five years. Although most cases everything is fine, 1 in 20 women are referred. The referral, though, isn’t suggesting that you have cancer, it is due to the test results showing abnormal cells.
When going for your referral doctors will perform a simple, and almost always painless, test called a Colposcopy. If any treatment needs to be performed it is usually performed right away.
Symptoms Aren’t Always Obvious
Cervical Cancer symptoms may not always be obvious. Symptoms may only show at the advanced stage of the disease. That’s why getting a smear test can be a vital tool in preventing the disease from taking more lives.
Sadly today two people will lose their fight with Cervical Cancer. Nine people are diagnosed with Cervical Cancer every day. With survival rates increasing, this disease has become much more treatable. What’s more is that 75% of cases are preventable.
Caroline, an assistant in Bridlington, shared her story:
I received my cervical screening invitation and, despite having just gone through a difficult break up and having other things on my mind, I made the appointment more or less straight away – which is very unlike me.
A letter came in the post after my test – I knew it would be my smear test results and I had a sinking feeling that it wasn’t great news – so I didn’t open the envelope. My birthday was coming up a few days later and I didn’t want to be worried about anything. However the nurse called within that time and after asking about the letter, urged me to open it so she could discuss the results.
She explained that abnormal cells had been discovered and I needed a gynaecological appointment urgently. I was obviously shocked by this, at 46 years old and having had three children, and never having had an abnormal result before.
I had to go for a colposcopy and was really apprehensive about the procedure, but it wasn’t that bad – not that I’d ever want to do it again! The colposcopy highlighted some white areas on my cervix which could potentially turn into cancer if not removed.
If I hadn’t gone, which under my circumstances could have easily been the case, I could have ended up with cervical cancer.
Eighteen months later I am back to normal and I am attending the normal three yearly tests. In my younger days I had put off smear tests, this is something I will never miss or put off again – if I had missed that one it could have been a very different story.
Soon after my colposcopy my daughter, who was 24 years old at the time, received her invitation and made the appointment straight away.
Michelle, an officer from Beverley, shared her story too:
I am 55 and have gone for regular cervical screening ever since I was first invited to do so, which I am guessing was when I was in my early 20s. Thankfully I have never had an abnormal smear.
As you get older you do suffer less from the embarrassment factor than you do when you’re younger – I think that’s a big barrier to younger women taking advantage of screening. My practice nurse used to laugh because I would lie on the table and put a pillow over my face and just pretend I was lying on a beach somewhere!
I think it might have been a previous drive for screening of some sort but I once saw the strap line ‘No one ever died of embarrassment’ (the unspoken part of it obviously being that people can and do die of cancers that could have been treated at an earlier stage if they had gone for screening) and when I have to go for screenings I always have that in mind.
Your Health Is Most Important
When you go for your smear test naturally you’ll feel embarrassed, but your health is the most important thing. A few moments of embarrassment must be worth having the knowledge you’re healthy?
Your local GPs and nurses also know how embarrassed you will feel. They will do everything they can to help you feel at ease.
For more information about the Smear Test please visit the NHS website.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust have launched their campaign for this year’s prevention week. They are encouraging women to Smear for Smear.
The number of women attending potentially life-saving smear tests is falling. Help us change this. Join the campaign from Monday 22- Sunday 28 January during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
We want every woman to know that smear tests can prevent cervical cancer. Share your #SmearForSmear and help us reach as many women as possible with a message about the importance of smear tests. Your post might be the reminder or encouragement someone needs to go for their smear test, it could save a life.
Please visit their website for ideas how to help promote the campaign!
News At A Glance:
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week will be held between the 22nd and 28th of January.
On average two women die daily from the disease, and 9 diagnosed.
As 70% of cases are preventable, women are being encouraged to reduce their risk of the disease by attending their smear test appointment.