HEALTH AND CARE: Calling all women... time to get checked

The screening test is relatively simple, takes about five minutes and is performed by the practice nurse at your GP surgery.
The screening test is relatively simple, takes about five minutes and is performed by the practice nurse at your GP surgery.

Every day nine women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three women will lose their lives to the disease.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 but is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme.

Cervical screening prevents 75 per cent of cervical cancers from developing, yet one in four women don’t attend.

Statistics show that the number of women aged 25 to 29 years of age being screened for cervical cancer is the lowest in any age group and numbers attending for screening are falling year on year.

Surveys undertaken by cancer charities indicate embarrassment and a lack of understanding of the causes of cervical cancer may be behind the fall in numbers attending. But screening is so important – more than 5,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.

The majority of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have delayed coming forward for screening which has impacted on their ability to have early changes treated.

With screening, any concerns can be identified early and it does make a difference.

The number of women dying from cervical cancer has halved over the past 28 years as a result of the NHS screening programme as well as improvement in treatment. Making time to take up your screening appointment is the single most important active step you can take to avoid developing cancer.

Cervical Screening Awareness Week runs from Monday to Sunday next week and aims to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening and its role in preventing cancer, as well as encouraging women to go for their screening test when invited.

Attending cervical screening is so important as it can detect pre-cancer abnormalities, which, if left untreated, may develop into cancer. You don’t need symptoms to go to your screening appointment, it is a preventative measure.

The screening test is relatively simple, takes about five minutes and is performed by the practice nurse at your GP surgery. 95 per cent of results will be normal and of those that are not, the vast majority can be treated very easily and will never develop in to cancer.

Find out more about the screening test on the NHS Choices website – www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cervical-screening-test/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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