WEEKEND WEB: Screening prevents up to 75% of cervical cancer cases

Smear test

DOCTOR CALLING: A weekly column by the chairman of South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group KEVIN HILL

During this Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (January 22 to 28) South Lincolnshire CCG is reminding people that the disease can kill – yet regular screening helps save thousands of lives every year.

Women in England and Wales aged between 25- and 64-years-old are invited to cervical screening, also known as a smear test, every three to five years.

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, rather screening programmes help to 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) and we know that on average cervical screening helps save the lives of approximately 4,500 women in England every year.

Every day in the UK eight women are diagnosed with cervical cancer with three women dying as a result every day.

It 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 per cent 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.

Research shows that both awareness of cervical cancer and uptake of screening are considerably lower amongst women from minority ethnic communities in comparison to the wider population.

Having your cervical screening sample taken should only take matter of minutes.

In the UK, GPs and practice nurses take the majority of cervical screening samples. You can bring a relative or friend with you and you can request a female nurse or GP to take the sample.

As with all cancers, the earlier a problem is spotted, the better the patient’s outcome. Screening saves lives, and we are committed to helping and encouraging all women to access this vital service.

For more information about cervical cancer and the Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, go to www.jostrust.org.uk

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