Cervical Cancer Prevention Week: 25–31 January

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This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35, but can affect women of any age (2,900 new cases each year – Cancer Research UK).  Over the last ten years cervical cancer has increased in women in the 25–29 age bracket by 59.2%. Most cases of cervical cancer could be prevented due to cervical screening.

“Cervical cancer is linked to persistent infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is a very common, symptomless virus, which can cause minor abnormalities in the cells of the cervix. In the great majority of women, the immune system clears the infection and the abnormalities go away naturally. However, in a small number of women the HPV infection persists” (Public Health England). Women in the UK are routinely recalled for screening by their GP surgery every three–five years from the age of 25 to 64. An HPV infection can be caused through close skin to skin contact, usually during sex.

Recent statistics have shown that one in five women have missed their screening appointment, and for the first time in 20 years the uptake rate has fallen below 78%.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the importance of attending regular screening entitled SmearForSmear.

What should you look out for?

  • bleeding between periods
  • bleeding during or after sex
  • bleeding after the menopause
  • unpleasant vaginal discharge
  • discomfort or pain during sex

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to make an appointment with your GP. They are more likely to be signs of other common conditions but it is better to have them checked by your Doctor.

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