This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week, a UK wide initiative that aims to highlight the importance of cervical screening with smear tests and how attending a screening invitation can help to prevent the development of cervical cancer.
While we do not carrying out routine screening at Liverpool Women's, we have one of the largest colposcopy units in the UK where women with abnormal smears attend for further evaluation and preventative treatment. Furthermore, as the Regional Centre for Gynaeological Cancer we see patients who need surgery or other treatments if they develop cervical cancer. For younger women, this can be a serious threat to their chances of ever having a baby but thankfully we are able to offer some a surgical procedure that removes their cancer while preserving their fertility. I see women of all ages every week with cervical cancer and I would much rather prevent the disease than have to treat it. Those who do attend for their smears regularly are very unlikely to develop cervical cancer. I would urge all women who receive an invitation for screening to take it up without hesitation.
In the UK, 20 per cent of women still do not attend their cervical screening and so raising public awareness of cervical cancer prevention is still a priority. The most common age group presenting with the disease used to be 35-45 but in the last ten years, we have seen a significant increase in women aged 25-35. In its early stages, survival rates can be very high so it is vital that women go for their smear tests.
I also support the campaign to give schoolgirls the HPV vaccine to protect them against cervical cancer later in life and urge parents with daughters to ensure they take the opportunity to have the HPV vaccine which is now routinely offered to girls aged 12 - 13 in year eight at school.
I know many women have very busy lives, juggling home and family with work but just this once, put yourself and your own health first and make sure you make time to have your smear test. You should receive an invitation when it is due but if not, speak to your GP about it or if you have any
worries about your health in that area.