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Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

19th January, 2022

It’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week this week. Did you know that one in three women and people with a cervix don’t attend cervical screening?

Here are some facts about cervical cancer:

  • Cervical cancer is a cancer that's found anywhere in the cervix.
  • The cervix is part of the reproductive system and is sometimes called the neck of the womb.
  • Cancer can often be prevented by attending cervical screening, which aims to find and treat changes to cells before they turn into cancer.
  • Cervical screening (referred to as a smear test) is not a test for cancer, but a test to help prevent cancer.
  • Cervical cancer usually grows very slowly. How serious it is depends on how big it is, if it has spread and your general health.

Around 220,000 people a year are told they have cervical cell changes after their screening or are given a HPV diagnosis which provides an opportunity for further tests and preventative treatment.

What about coronavirus? Are appointments still available?

The Cervical Screening Programme in England is still inviting people for cervical screening. GP surgeries and some sexual health clinics are doing cervical screening. If you have had your invitation, you can contact your GP surgery to book an appointment. 

Your GP surgery may not be able to offer you a cervical screening appointment straight away. If you are not able to book an appointment yet, you can:

  • escalate this to your CCG or NHS England and Improvement by emailing england.contactus@nhs.net
  • try calling your GP surgery back in a few weeks, to see if appointments have become available.

There is a wealth of information to help you with what to expect and how to make things easier during the pandemic when booking for and attending a cervical screening test here.

Stories

If you would like to learn more, you can read about others’ personal experiences with cervical screening, cell changes and cancer diagnosis here

Support for you

There are many reasons that a cervical screening test may be difficult for some people, ranging from embarrassment and body image to previous trauma.

You can find out all of the information you might need regarding cervical screening here, including what to expect and different things you can do to help make the experience as comfortable as possible. If you would like to find out more, there is a support forum where you can ask others about their experiences, an ask the expert section and a helpline here.

For some people, time can simply slip by when life gets busy. If that’s the case for you, this is your nudge to make that appointment. 

Cervical screening is not for those with symptoms

Cervical screening is a preventative test and not one to make a diagnosis.   

Symptoms of cervical cancer can include:

  • Unusual bleeding
  • Changes to discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the lower back, between the hip bones (pelvis), or in the lower tummy.

If you are experiencing symptoms that are worrying you, don’t hesitate to call your GP.

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