This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (20 – 26 January) a national campaign raising awareness of cervical cancer and how women can reduce the risk of the disease, including knowing the signs and symptoms, taking up the HPV vaccination and attending cervical screening when invited.
Women aged 25-49 are invited to attend cervical screening (or a smear test) at their GP practice every three years, and women aged 50-64 are invited to attend every five years.
The symptoms of cervical cancer aren’t always obvious, and it may not cause any symptoms at all until it’s reached an advanced stage. This is why it’s very important for women to attend all of their cervical screening appointments. The screening test only takes a few minutes and can help stop cervical cancer before it starts, as the test identifies potentially harmful cells before they become cancerous, and ensures women get the right treatment as soon as possible. The tests are usually done at a GP surgery by female nurses who are trained to make women feel more comfortable and will talk them through the process.
There has been a decline in women attending their screening appointments with attendance at its lowest in 21 years. The national average is 71.7% and in Doncaster that figure is slightly higher at 74.2%. With around 3,200 new cervical cancer cases in the UK every year there is still much worked needed to be done around awareness and how women can reduce their risk.
Dr David Crichton, GP and Chair, NHS Clinical Commissioning Group said: ”Two women die every day in England from cervical cancer, yet it is one of the most preventable cancers if caught early. As well as knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for, cervical screening really can save your life, and we would urge women to attend screening when invited as it can detect changes that could develop into cancer. If you have missed previous appointments please call your GP practice to rearrange.”
Joanne Mann, Cancer Nurse Specialist, said: “Early detection is key to increasing survival rates so educating everyone about the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it is so important. I can’t stress enough how important it is to go along to your GP Practice when invited for cervical screening. In between times if you notice anything unusual for you abnormal bleeding, abnormal discharge between periods or have any concerns please speak to a GP. Please don’t ignore your screening invite, we all lead busy lives but it’s important to put our health first after all what’s five minutes out of our time every few years?”
The South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw Screening Engagement Team will be attending events throughout the week raising awareness of the importance knowing the signs and symptoms and also of attending screening when invited. They will also be sharing messages and videos on social media and answering questions or concerns people may have about the screening process.