Image shows a pink background with green vectors and faded yellow plants on it. In the top left hand corner is a clock which reads 5 minutes on it. Opposite this is writing which says 5 minutes to save your life" and then below this are the words Book your screening today and cervical screening awareness week 17 - 21 June

Cervical Screening Awareness Week

Cervical Cancer is the 14th most common type of cancer in the UK with an average of 9 new cases diagnosed daily.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer include pain during sexual activity, unusual bleeding or discharge, or pain between the hip bones in the pelvis. However, changes to the cervix which might be indicative of Cervical Cancer don’t always come with symptoms and screening, often called a smear test or pap smear, aims to ensure that any changes to the cervix are detected and treated if needed.

For this reason, Cervical Screening is a vital part of healthcare for everyone with a cervix, helping to reduce the risk of cancer developing by up to 70%. 17 – 23 June is Cervical Screening Awareness Week and here at Unitas we’re helping to spread the message.

What is Screening?

Screening is available via the NHS for everyone who has a cervix and is aged between 25 and 64. Screening schedules are shown below:

 

6 months before the 25th birthday:                         Invited for a first screening

25 – 49 years:                                                                Invited every 3 years

50 – 64 years:                                                                Invited every 5 years

65 years and over:                                                        Invited only if a recent test was abnormal.

 

The screening process is a short procedure carried out by a nurse or doctor, collecting cells from the opening of the cervix where they are then tested for HPV. HPV is a virus which can lead to cell changes. In England and Wales, the sample is tested for HPV first and if HPV is present, the cells will then be checked for any abnormality.

Whilst screening isn’t painful, some people do find the process uncomfortable and everyone’s experience is different. Cervical Cancer Awareness Charity Jo’s Trust compiled some stories here.

Many people find the prospect of going for a Screening intimidating and up to 1 in 3 people will delay a test due to nerves or apprehension, increasing the risk of cell change or abnormality being missed.

If the prospect of going for screening is bothering you, it’s worth asking for a longer appointment to allow the doctor or nurse a little more time for discussion, taking a friend or family member with you, asking for a chaperone and wearing loose clothes or a skirt/dress for comfort.

What happens next?

After the test, the samples will be sent for testing and the results will be sent via the post. Results and further treatment works as:

 

No HPV Detected:                                                         No need for further action until next appointment

HPV detected, but no abnormal cells:                     Further testing advised within a year – invitation will be sent out automatically

HPV and abnormal cells detected:                           Patient will be invited for further testing

 

The wait for results can feel unnerving, but it’s important not to worry.  It is, however, very very important to go for your screening.

 

Further advice:

Cancer Research UK

Macmillan Cancer

NHS

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