This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week.
Every day 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3 lose their lives. Attending cervical screening tests (smear tests) significantly reduces the risk of the cancer developing; yet 1 in 4 women fail to attend this potentially life-saving test every year.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to supporting women affected by cervical cancer. From 13 – 19 June the charity is raising awareness on the importance of attending smear tests.
Women aged 25-49 are invited for cervical screening every 3 years and from 50-64 every 5 years. Each year screening saves 5,000 lives in the UK, and not going for a screening is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer.
The majority (99.7%) of cervical cancers are caused by Persistent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection which causes changes to the cervical cells. Smear tests aim to detect any changes to these cells that may point towards the presence of the viral infection. The detection usually prevents the development of this life-threatening cancer.
The process of smear tests involves briefly swabbing the surface of the cervix, and examining the findings under a microscope. The screening test should only take a matter of minutes and is usually performed by both practice nurses and GPs.
Cervical cancer is one of the only cancers that is preventable so arranging a screening is crucial in preventing cancer and maintaining peace of mind.
Jo’s Charity offers a wide range of free support services and information about cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. For more information visit jostrust.org.uk or follow the action on Twitter via #CSAW