Carole Sales at NHS Swindon writes:
In Swindon, we have been working hard to improve the uptake of cervical screening, and unlike elsewhere in the country, we have seen a slight increase in the numbers coming forward for screening. Over three out of four women do attend for screening, but we would like to see even more come forward.
From 10 June, it is Cervical Cancer Screening Week, and to help raise awareness, we invite you to make a pledge to encourage friends, sisters, daughters, aunties, or even yourself to make and attend that appointment. If you know that you ignored your last screening invitation please contact your GP and book an appointment.
Around 900 women die of cervical cancer in England each year, and many of those who develop it have not been screened regularly; not going for cervical screening is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer.
All women between the ages of 25 and 64 are eligible for a free cervical screening test every three to five years, and evidence shows that early detection and treatment can prevent around 75% of cancers developing.
Many of us put off attending for our screening because we are “too busy” or we are worried about the process. Even if you are a busy person, living life to the full, you should certainly make time for the test as it can prevent you from getting cervical cancer.
If you are worried about the process, ask to speak to your practice nurse or GP before the screening. Your job in the process takes about a minute to complete, and could save your life.
The majority of sexually active women will come into contact with high risk HPV types at some time in their life, and for most women (90 per cent), their body’s own immune system will get rid of the infection without them ever knowing it was there.
However, surprisingly, the number of women attending their cervical screening tests has dropped dramatically in the past year. This is even more surprising considering how many women, particularly young women, were inspired by the loss of Jade Goody in March 2009.
Frances Mayes, Senior Public Health Manager for NHS Swindon, says: “Cervicial screening is such a good screening test because it actually helps to prevent you from getting cancer by identifying pre-cancerous changes to the cells in your cervix. Cervical Cancer Screening is not actually looking for cancer, it is preventing it”.
If you need any support or help in understanding what it is all about, then speak to your General Practitioner, or visit the NHS Cervical Screening Programme website which is packed full of information.