At the end of Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, we look at the disease and why it is so important for women to attend regular screenings.
Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer in women aged under 35. In recent years, cervical screening has done much to improve early diagnosis and treatment of the disease but sadly the disease still claims around 1,000 lives every year.
The uptake of cervical screening is going down year by year.
Cervical Cancer Facts
- HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is the main cause of cervical cancer
- There are 2 types of the virus in particular which are responsible for around 70% of cases – HPV 16 & 18
- The HPV vaccine was first introduced in 2006 and is now offered to girls aged 12-13 and although very effective will not provide protection against all strains of HPV
- If detected early the prospects of survival are excellent
Cervical cancer may not present with symptoms until it is in the advanced stages which is why it is imperative for women to attend regular screenings so that the disease, if present can be caught early.
Where symptoms in the early stages are present, they can take the form of :
- Irregular bleeding, usually after sexual intercourse or at any other time other than your expected monthly period, this includes bleeding after the menopause.
- An unpleasant vaginal discharge
- Pain and discomfort during sex
Of course some of these symptoms can be for other reasons and will not necessarily mean that cervical cancer is present but it is important to attend a GP and have them investigated.
This year, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust are holding for the second year running a campaign called #smearforsmear which is a lipstick smear selfie campaign.
Participants are encouraged to apply lipstick, smear it, take a selfie and share it on social media with the words “Attend your smear, reduce your risk of Cervical Cancer”. Participants are then encouraged to nominate a friend to do their #smearforsmear selfie and donate to the charity via text.