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Let ‘Cervical Screening’ save more lives

Last year Public Health England launched a major national campaign during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. Local doctors would like to remind and encourage women to attend their cervical screening.

The ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ campaign which was launched last year empowers women with useful advice, information and tools to get screened.

Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease, which is 2 deaths every day. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.

Dr Neil Smith, local award winning GP and Cancer Lead for Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups said:

“Cervical screening checks the health of your cervix. It is not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer by detecting early abnormalities in the cervix, so they can be treated. If these abnormalities are left untreated they can lead to cancer of the cervix (the neck of the womb). I would recommend that every woman invited should have the test.  We know that on average cervical screening helps save the lives of approximately 4,500 women in England every year.

“The cancer team at NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) launched the “Let’s Talk Cancer” campaign last year which was a success. The campaign supports people to talk about their thoughts, feelings and experiences of cancer to improve screening, prevention, care and outcomes of cancer and encourage professionals to communicate clearly with patients about cancer. The word cancer can create fear and negative emotions. By talking about it we identify these feelings and it helps to put things into perspective. Making cancer part of everyday conversations encourages people to attend appointments for cancer screening and tests or hospital reviews for suspected cancer.”

Mr Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said:

“The number of women getting screened for cervical cancer in the age cohort (25-49) increased last year to 69.8%, from 69.1% in 2018. This is great news however, while we have seen small gains in attendance, we must not lose sight of the fact that one million women did not attend cervical screening last year in England. We remain far below the 80% target and have a long way to go. Among young women, it remains under two in three booking a potentially life-saving test and big variations across ages demonstrate the need for targeted activities to tackle the different barriers across the life course.

“With Human Papillomavirus (HPV) testing being rolled out we now have a far more effective screening method which can prevent many more cancer diagnoses. Ensuring women can access and understand the benefits of this test should be paramount. Ensuring women fully understand what it means to be tested for HPV, to be diagnosed with it and the implications on daily life, is equally as important. We are seeing increasing numbers of women who are confused and fearful following a HPV test and this needs to change.”

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under. Despite this, more than 20 per cent of women invited for screening do not attend. Cervical screening can prevent around 45% of cervical cancer cases in women in their 30s, rising with age to 75 per cent in women in their 50s and 60s, who attend regularly.

As well as attending for screening when you are invited, other signs to look out for include any abnormal bleeding or unpleasant discharge or pain after sex. If you notice anything unusual, make an appointment to see your doctor and get it checked out.

For further information on cervical cancer and smear tests visit:

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/cervical-cancer/about/cervical-cancer-screening

https://www.jostrust.org.uk/about-cervical-cancer