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17 Jan 2022

Clinical Negligence

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

As this week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, Danielle Howell, a partner in our Clinical Negligence team, explains why it is so important for people to attend their screening. The screening programme is the best way of detecting cervical cell changes, yet attendance levels are still much lower than they should be, with one in three people choosing not to attend.

If you or someone a loved one has suffered from cervical cancer, you will know how important it is to attend your cervical screening appointments.

Who is invited for cervical screening?

Cervical screening is available for women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 and all eligible people who are registered with a GP automatically receive an invitation by mail. Trans men (who are assigned female at birth) do not receive invitations, but are still entitled to a screening if they have a cervix. People aged 25-49 receive invitations every 3 years and people who are aged 50-64 every 5 years.

The screenings are used to test for human papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause abnormal cells on the cervix. If HPV is found, a cytology test is used as a triage, to check for abnormal cells. If no abnormal cells are found, a follow up screen is arranged for 12 months’ time to make sure the immune system has cleared the virus. However, if HPV is not found, the individual will be offered a screening test again in 3 to 5 years (this is age dependent).

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Worryingly, symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious and they can go undetected. Some symptoms can include changes to your vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding that’s unusual for you, pain during sex and pain in your lower back or your lower stomach. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, try not to worry as cervical cancer is rare but it’s always best to get checked out. Any concerns you have can be discussed with your local GP.

The #SmearForSmear campaign

This year, the only UK charity dedicated to supporting women and people with a cervix affected by cervical cancer and abnormalities, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, is running a  #SmearForSmear campaign to inspire people to share their selfies on social media and encourage them to attend their cervical screening test.

If you’ve been invited for your cervical screening test, medical advice is to book an appointment as soon as possible as the test can help to save your life. The symptoms of cervical cancer aren’t always obvious and may not cause any symptoms at all until it has reached an advanced stage, which is why you must attend your test to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under. The screening is offered free on the NHS so it’s important that you’re registered with a GP who must have your current address on file. If you have any concerns about the test, you can speak to your GP or practice nurse, who will be able to answer any questions you may have.

Support services and where to find more information

Knowing where to get more support and information can be a comfort if you or a person you know is worried about going to their cervical screening, or if they want more information about their results.

Jo’s cervical cancer trust get support page has a range of help which includes online forums, helplines, support events and blogs.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by clinical negligence relating to a cervical cancer diagnosis and would like to get in touch with our expert legal team, please contact us on 01633 244 233.

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