Cervical Screening Awareness Week runs this week. Don’t be shy about being screened, says Shalbourne gynaecologist Miss Lalrinawmi – a simple smear test could save your life.
There are a lot of myths around cervical screening – or what many of us know as a smear test. Those myths, together with the fact that some women feel embarrassed at the thought of a smear, may be what’s stopping one in four of us taking up the test.
Miss Lalrinawmi, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Swindon’s private healthcare provider Shalbourne, says she hopes that a public talk she is giving at Shalbourne this month will bust those myths, and reveal how a few minutes in the consulting room can help prevent cervical cancer.
“A survey carried out last year found that a quarter of UK women overall aren’t taking up screening opportunities, mainly because they are embarrassed about body shape or odour,” says Miss Lalrinawmi.
“It also showed that many women didn’t realise that screening substantially reduced their risk of developing cancer. Others were concerned the tests may reveal they are carrying the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is transmitted by skin to skin contact of the genital areas, and that they would be judged for that.
“While it’s true that almost all cervical cancer cases occur in women who have been previously infected with HPV, in fact, four out of five women carry some type of HPV at some point during their lives which is cleared away naturally by the body without any long term effect.
“A smear is a quick and simple test that can help prevent cervical cancer, or ensure you have early treatment.”
There are more than two deaths every day from cervical cancer in the UK. Yet, 99.8 per cent of cervical cancers are preventable. The health message is don’t spare your blushes by putting off cervical screening. It's one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer. If you missed your last cervical screening, you do not need to wait for a letter to book an appointment – simply call your GP surgery to make one.
· Miss Lalrinawmi will be giving a patient talk about cervical screening at the Cherwell education room at Shalbourne on Monday 17th June 6pm. Admission is free and no pre-registration is required. Park in any of the barrier controlled visitor car parks that are not pay and display, and barrier passes may be exchanged for free parking passes at Shalbournereception.
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