Cervical Cancer Prevention Week #SmearForSmear

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The theme of this week’s cervical cancer prevention week organised by the cervical cancer charity, Jo's Trust, is ‘Reduce your risk’.

None of us looks forward to a cervical screening test, still referred to by its previous name, ‘smear test’, by women of a certain age. Nevertheless, it’s an essential test to detect abnormal cells on the cervix which can be removed, thus preventing cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is a preventable disease yet 2 women in the UK die from this each day, with a further 9 women being diagnosed each day.

Jo’s Trust say that to reduce our risk, we should:

  • Attend cervical screening when invited
  • Know the symptoms of cervical cancer and seeking medical advice if experiencing any
  • Take up the HPV vaccination if aged 11-18
  • Talk to friends and family to ensure they know how they can reduce their risk
  • Know where to find support and further information

Women between the age of 25-49 are invited to attend a screening test every three years. Women between the age of 50-64 are invited every 5 years. Research funded by Cancer Research in 2014, found that women who hadn’t taken these tests every 5 years, were 6 times more likely to develop cervical cancer later on. Attending 3 tests in 15 years seems a small price to pay for the reassurance that your cervix is healthy and will hopefully remain so.

What are some of the symptoms of cervical cancer?

  • vaginal bleeding after having sex
  • bleeding at any time, other than your expected period, is considered unusual, including bleeding after menopause
  • change in discharge (colour, texture, smell, increased quantities

This isn't an exhaustive list. Symptoms of cervical cancer aren’t always obvious. It's essential women don't skip these free tests, hitting menopause, otherwise warning signs will be missed. If you notice any changes, get checked out as soon as possible by your GP or women's health clinic. As Jo’s Trust say, ‘be cervix savvy', these tests could save your life.