This week (w/c 20 January 2014) is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
Health managers from NHS Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group (HaRD CCG) and NHS England North Yorkshire and the Humber are encouraging women to make sure they attend their cervical screening appointments when they are invited by their GP.
Attending regular cervical screening appointments (also known as smear tests) at your local doctor’s surgery is the best way to identify abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix at an early stage which can help to prevent cancer before it happens.
Dr Sarah Hay, Lead for Planned Care at HaRD CCG and a Harrogate GP, said: A cervical screen – which only takes about five minutes – is a test to check the health of the cervix, rather than a test for cancer. For most women, the test results will show that everything is normal. But for one in 20 women, changes in the cells of the cervix will show up.
Most of these changes are minor and the cells may go back to normal on their own. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells may need simple treatment by the Gynaecologists at your local hospital to prevent them developing into cancer at a later stage. Having regular smears and getting early treatment of these changes can greatly reduce the risk of developing cancer in the future.
You can bring a friend or relative with you to the appointment and you can request a female nurse or GP to take the sample. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. I can’t stress enough how important it is to attend your appointment.
About 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK, which amounts to two per cent of all cancers diagnosed in women.
Dr Phil Kirby, Screening and Immunisation Lead from NHS England North Yorkshire and the Humber, said: This procedure takes around five minutes to perform and it can save lives. Women have the option to request that a female doctor or nurse perform the procedure, it is confidential and they are also able to take a friend along with them.
It is estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers. If abnormalities are detected at an early stage then treatment can reduce the risk of cervical cancer developing.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for around one in 20 women the test will show some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. It is recommended that women who are between the ages of 25 and 49 are screened every three years, and women between the ages of 50 and 64 are screened every five years.