Smear tests aren’t easy for everyone, but they can save lives.
The number of people going for smear tests is lower than ever, yet they prevent 75% of cervical cancers! So while they may not be pleasant, they are important.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35, and 75% of cervical cancers are prevented by cervical screening (smear tests).
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs from January 18 to 24 and it encourages women to reduce their risk of the disease by promoting the steps they can take to look after their health.
Lynsey Robson, Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse for North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We really want to encourage awareness of cervical cancer and increase the vigilance in terms of the specific signs and symptoms for potential cancer diagnosis.
“There’s support out there, and people can visit websites such as Macmillan, who have a lot of good support material, and they’ve got a helpline as well that’s available seven days a week for people to contact if they’ve got concerns. Also there’s a really good Cancer Research UK website.
“The Government advice for COVID-19 is to Stay Alert for signs and symptoms of COVID, and what we would also say is to Stay Alert to the signs and symptoms of cancer.
“If you’re concerned your symptoms may be cancer, please contact your GP.”
How can you reduce your risk of cervical cancer?
- Attending cervical screening when invited.
- Knowing the symptoms of cervical cancer and seeking medical advice if experiencing any.
- Encouraging taking up the HPV vaccination for people aged 11-18.
Who can have a Smear Test?
You are automatically invited for cervical screening if you are:
- between the ages of 25 to 64
- registered as female with a GP surgery.
You are invited:
- every 3 years between age 25 and 49
- every 5 years between age 50 and 64.
You may get your first invite up to 6 months before you turn 25. You can book an appointment as soon as you get the invite.
It is very rare to develop cervical cancer if you are under the age of 25 or over the age of 64, if you have had regular cervical screening.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
- Lower back pain
- Pain during sex
- Bleeding: during or after sex or between periods
- Post menopausal bleeding
- Unusual discharge
If you have experienced any of these symptoms you should contact your GP.
More information about cervical cancer can be found here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-cancer/