Doctor Calling: A weekly column by Dr Miles Langdon of South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, addressing topical
Nearly 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the UK, yet 20 per cent of women do not take up their invitation to go for cervical screening.
That is why we are urging Lincolnshire women who are invited for screening to take up their invitation.
This is vital as early-stage cervical cancers don’t usually have symptoms and are generally detected through the screening process.
However, there are some recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer such as abnormal bleeding – visit the NHS Choices website for more information on symptoms: www.nhs.uk
For girls aged between 12-13), there is now a vaccination against the persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that causes changes to the cervical cells and is responsible for nearly all cervical cancers.
The vaccine can help prevent 70 per cent of cervical cancers and research has indicated that the HPV vaccine provides effective protection for at least 20 years.
In women, the most effective method of preventing cervical cancer is through the regular cervical screening which happens by invitation and which allows detection of any early changes of the cervix.
Cervical cancer is largely preventable and, if caught early, survival rates are high. All women aged between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening. Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited for testing every three years, and women aged between 50 and 64 are invited every five years. It’s important that women talk about the changes in their body and ensure that they seek medical attention if necessary.
We find that many women are uncomfortable discussing matters such as this, and may also feel perturbed about the screening process.
We try to alleviate these concerns and reassure the patients that the process (commonly referred to as a smear test) is not something to be worried about.
We outline the importance of identifying any abnormal cells early and remind them that it is not a test for cancer, but for abnormal cells that, if found, would then be further investigated.
If you or someone close to you is concerned about the process or believe they are experiencing potential symptoms, contact your GP at the earliest opportunity for advice.