GPs are urging all eligible women aged 25-64 to take five minutes to undergo something which could save their lives – a cervical screening test.
The message about the importance of cervical screening comes from NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) clinicians as National Cervical Screening Week (Monday 15 to Sunday 21 June) gets underway. The CCG is supporting the cervical cancer charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to ensure that 2015 is the year for women to take the positive step and help to stop cervical cancer in its tracks. It is estimated that the cervical screening programme saves around 4,500 lives in England every year.
Cervical screening is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix – the entrance to the womb. With research showing that 22% of women in England are not attending a cervical screening, GPs are emphasising the importance of attending to spot the signs early. Latest research from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has shown that the number of women attending a screening across West Yorkshire has decreased. In Kirklees, 80.2% of women were screened in 2013 compared to 79.6% in 2014.
Dr David Kelly, Chair of NHS North Kirklees CCG said: “We want to increase the understanding about cervical screening and how vital it is for women to have regular smear tests because these tests really can save lives.
“Women have no need to be embarrassed by the tests which are quick and painless. A simple smear test enables women to receive treatment before it is too late, preventing unnecessary deaths. So our message is clear: don’t ignore your smear test.”
In most cases, cervical cancer is caused by a virus and although four out of five will be affected with it at some time in their lives, most will not go on to develop cancer. And those who do can usually be cured if the disease is diagnosed early.
There are usually no symptoms with abnormal cells in their pre-cancerous state and sometimes no symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer.
However GPs are urging women to be aware of some recognised symptoms which may indicate cervical cancer. These include abnormal bleeding, vaginal discharge, discomfort or pain during sex and lower back pain.
Any woman experiencing any or all of these symptoms should make an appointment with their GP as soon as possible.