Cervical Cancer Prevention Week Begins

Today marks the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, a campaign which aims to raise awareness of the disease and encourage more women to attend potentially life-saving screening appointments.

According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust – the country’s leading cervical cancer charity – two women lose their lives every day in the UK because of cervical cancer. And nine more receive a life-changing diagnosis.

But the charity is confident that by continuously sharing the importance of regular screenings and HPV vaccinations, cervical cancer can be eliminated completely. They know there’s a long way to go before hitting this goal, though, which is why Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is still so important.

What is cervical cancer?

According to Cancer Research UK, cervical cancer develops when “abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way”. The main symptom is unusual bleeding, but discharge and pain during sex are also common symptoms.

The vast majority of cervical cancers are caused by persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. If this infection can’t be cleared by the immune system, it can cause abnormal cells to develop which then become cancerous.

Cervical cancer is more common in younger women, with more than half of cases appearing in women under the age of 45.

How can cervical cancer be prevented?

One of the most effective ways to prevent cervical cancer is to get regular cervical screenings.

In the UK, women aged 25-49 are invited to screenings every three years, while women aged 50-64 are invited every five years. But from 2022-23, three in 10 women who were eligible for screening did not attend their appointment.

Research carried out by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found that embarrassment and fear were two of the main factors stopping women from attending their screenings.

More than a third of the women surveyed (35%) said they were embarrassed to attend because of their body shape, while one in six would rather miss their screening appointment than a gym class.

Another form of prevention against cervical cancer is the HPV vaccine, which has been offered to girls aged between 12 and 13 at school since 2008. It’s now also offered to boys of the same age to protect their future partners and to prevent other HPV-related cancers that occur in men.

Self-sampling could soon be a possibility

According to a study backed by Cancer Research UK, 51.4% of women eligible for cervical screening said they would prefer a test that you can do yourself at home. This isn’t something the NHS currently offers, but it could become an alternative option in the near future.

HPValidate is a study that was established in 2021 with the aim of determining whether self-testing is as effective as traditional cervical cancer screenings. The results of this study are expected to be released in 2024, and they could significantly change how screenings are conducted.

Robert Music, chief executive at Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, has said: “We want to see self-sampling being made available as well as more flexible locations for women to attend. It’s vital women have more control otherwise we will see attendance continue to fall.”

Early detection is critical for the best chance of survival. If your cervical cancer was misdiagnosed or you received a delayed diagnosis, you may be able to claim medical negligence compensation. We’re here to help, just give our friendly team a call or start your claim online.


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