Cervical Screening Awareness Week 8 - 14 June Print
It is Cervical Screening Awareness Week 8 – 14 June 2014 and still over 20% of women in the UK do not turn up for a cervical screening when they are invited. After the high profile case of Jade Goody in the media it is still important to encourage more women to attend. During the last decade there has been a reduction in the number of women screened; apart from an increase in 2009 which is linked to the media attention around Jade's death, coverage has fallen or stayed the same since 2003. Cervical screening is estimated to save up to 5,000 lives each year but attendance is still falling. Each year over 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the UK and more than half of these are in women under the age of 50. Although very rare in women under 25, it is the second most common cancer in women under 35. The best way of reducing your risk of developing cervical cancer is regular screening and in England, Wales and N. Ireland women aged 25 to 49 get invited for screening from the age of 25 and Scotland will be amended to come in line with the rest of the UK next year. However it is important to understand that cervical screening is not screening for gynaecological cancers, rather for abnormal cells on the cervix which can lead to cervical cancer. Abnormal cells on the cervix don't usually have any symptoms, which is why it is so important to go for screenings regularly. If there are signs of abnormal cells, treating them is often simple and can prevent cancer developing. Robert Marsh, CEO of The Eve Appeal, which aims to highlight the importance of attending screening and awareness of cervical cancer among women said “Our hopes are that increased awareness around the importance of regular screening, along with further understanding as to what the screening is set out to detect, will help dispel any outstanding myths and encourage women to attend their cervical screening promptly when invited.” Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by a common sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV) which most women have at some time but usually clears up on its own. If the infection doesn't clear up there is a risk of abnormal cells developing which could become cervical cancer over time. There is now a vaccination against HPV which is offered to girls. Almost all cases of cervical cancer can be prevented by screening and HPV vaccination. Robert Marsh, of The Eve Appeal said “The earlier cervical cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome will be. Screening is free and can save your life so please, pick up the phone as soon as that letter drops through the letterbox.” To reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer: • Go for screening when invited • Have the HPV vaccine if you are offered it • If you smoke, try to stop • Use a condom to reduce your risk of HPV and other sexually transmitted infections