Don’t put off your cervical smear test – it can save your life
NINE of us are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day and two die from the disease.
But fewer than one in two people in parts of England take part in free life-saving cervical swabs.
To mark Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is urging women to take part in their NHS screening to save lives.
Kate Sanger, the charity’s head of policy, said: “We would urge everyone who is able to attend to get tested.
“Numbers have never risen since Covid, when screening stopped in parts of the UK and people found it harder to go out and get tested.
“There are many reasons women still don’t go.
“Some are scared or embarrassed, others juggle work and other commitments.
“But these tests are vital. You can prevent cancer.”
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide and around 3,000 cases are diagnosed in the UK each year.
If caught early, 95 percent of people diagnosed with stage 1 cervical cancer survive at least five years.
This drops to 15 percent for those diagnosed in stage four.
But with the right screening, world health leaders say it’s possible to completely end cervical cancer within a century.
Women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited to their family doctor’s office for a swab test every three to five years.
But only 69.9 percent were screened last year – down from 75.1 percent a decade ago.
And take-up is lowest for women in their 20s and highest in their 40s.
The number of vaccinations to protect against the carcinogenic human papillomavirus has also decreased.
The vaccines will be offered in two doses to 12- and 13-year-olds between the eighth and tenth grades.
Five years ago in England 87 per cent were double vaccinated by the tenth grade. Today it is only 70 percent. In Wales it was just 55 percent last year.
Policy chief Kate added: “It’s really important that the fall in adoption is addressed.
“Otherwise, there are groups of girls and women who are at higher risk of cervical cancer.”
Covid has also had a major impact on HPV with schools shutting down.
Now the school nurses are still under the pressure of the backlog.
To help eradicate the disease, the World Health Organization wants 90 percent of girls by the age of 15 to be fully vaccinated and 70 percent of women under the age of 35 to be screened by 2030.
According to scientists, vaccination can reduce the likelihood of contracting the HPV virus by 90 percent.
Anyone missing it at school can ask their family doctor at any time up to their 25th birthday.
Karen Hobbs of the charity The Eve Appeal said, “The fewer children who get the HPV vaccine now, the fewer adults will be protected from HPV-related cancers in the future.”
But a poll by Eve Appeal and YouGov found that three in 10 adults had never heard of HPV and fewer than half of 18- to 24-year-olds knew it could increase their risk of cervical cancer.
The charity also found that only half of the women would encourage friends to attend their swab test, and almost a fifth said a bad past experience stopped them from going again.
15 percent said it was too hard to get there, 13 percent didn’t see it as a priority, and 13 percent was too embarrassed to go there.
At-home swabs, like Covid testing, have been tried in parts of the UK as an alternative to surgical swab testing.
Kate said: “There is a demand for at-home screening among medical professionals and other countries have implemented this with positive results.”
An “incredibly bad choice” to skip screening
GERALDINE WALSH had never had a smear test before she began suffering from cervical cancer symptoms in her early thirties.
The now 37-year-old HR specialist from Hampshire, who was diagnosed with the disease in January 2017, said skipping life-saving screenings was a “monumenally bad choice”.
Geraldine said: “I was healthy, nobody I knew had cervical cancer and I wrongly thought I wasn’t at risk.
“I should have gone.”
She was diagnosed with stage one cancer and required two surgeries after suffering pain and bleeding, particularly during and after sex.
She signed up for a smear test that found her cancer and was referred for testing and treatment.
Geraldine said: “I was exactly the person all the campaigns are targeting but I ignored the advice.
“Now I’m telling everyone, go for your swab and if you’re eligible, get your HPV vaccine.
“This cancer is preventable and you should take every opportunity to take control of your health.”
https://www.the-sun.com/health/7251304/cervical-smear-test-do-not-skip/ Don’t put off your cervical smear test – it can save your life