Cervical Cancer Prevention Week begins

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week has begun across the UK.

It gives people the chance to raise awareness of the disease and encourage more women to attend potentially life-saving screening appointments.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity, has said it wants “as many people as possible to know how they can reduce their risk of the disease and to educate others”. This year’s campaign is based on the concept of smear for smear, inviting people to post photos to social media of lipstick smears to prompt conversation.

The charity is encouraging people to fundraise, campaign and raise awareness this week to ensure people know the disease can be prevented.

What is cervical cancer?

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

The vast majority of cervical cancers (99.7%) are caused by persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. This then causes changes to the cervical cells, which then results in cancer. The disease is more common in younger women, with more than half of cases appearing in women under the age of 45.

A total of 220,000 UK women are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities each year, while over 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 890 women lose their lives from the disease.

Detection and prevention

Women aged 25-49 are invited to screening every three years, while women aged 50-64 are invited every five years. However, in 2018/19, one million women did not attend a screening appointment when they were invited.

In 2018, research by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust revealed that women do not attend their cervical screening largely because of embarrassment and fear. 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.

The main form of prevention against cervical cancer is the HPV vaccine. It’s offered to girls aged 12 and 13 at school. It is also now offered to boys of the same age to protect their future partners and other HPV-related cancers that occur in men.

Self-sampling possible

New research has found that cervical pre-cancer can be detected in self-collected urine samples, meaning that women may not have to attend screening appointments to check their status. It could result in faster identification of those who require treatment and make the whole process of detection more convenient for women.

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cancer Trust, 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 and diagnoses of this often-preventable cancer increase.”

Early detection is critical for the best chance of survival. If your cervical cancer was misdiagnosed or delayed, you may be able to claim medical negligence compensation. First4Lawyers are here to help. To find out how, just give us a call, request a call back or start your claim online.


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