Cervical cancer prevention week aims at raising awareness of the devastating impact this type of cancer can have on both a woman and her loved ones.
Data from the Office of National Statistics shows numbers diagnosed with cervical cancer in under 35 year olds in England, has risen by 3.98% in one year and 33.1% over 10 years. The increase appears to be from a poor uptake of the screening test with 56% of under 35’s failing to be screened in 2013/14.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust carried out a survey to reveal some of the reasons why young woman are either delaying the test or not attending. The results include 20% seeing the screening process as an unnecessary health test, 26.2% considered it may be painful and 26.6% thought it would be embarrassing.
I can understand the concerns that younger woman may have about the screening test especially if you are not sexually active or if you have not yet experienced child birth. I think both of these things help you understand your body in a better way to enable you to allow medical professionals to examine you. I can understand why younger woman think it is embarrassing, I felt exactly the same way for a long time but then you start to realise that this test could one day save your life, what better reason do you need.
I had my first test at 26 and now 20 years down the road, it is still as important to me as the first. I am proud to say I have not missed one appointment, with my last screening test only 2 weeks ago. However, despite previous tests showing no abnormal cells, this recent test has proved very different. I now require a colposcopy examination to determine if the high risk cell changes detected, are likely to cause cervical abnormalities or worse still, have already caused pre-cancerous cells. It just goes to show, the screening does work no matter what age you are.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in all women under 35 and it claims the lives of 1,000 British women with a further 3,000 new diagnoses every year. I think these numbers are frightening but cervical cancer is preventable and if caught early, survival rates are high.
Robert Music, Chief Executive for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “Every day we see the devastating impact a cervical cancer diagnosis can have on both a woman and her loved ones. But to know that for those that delayed their screening before diagnosis, this could have been prevented, is tragic.”
“It’s now time that we see an upward shift in awareness or cervical cancer and an understanding of the importance of smear tests. The more women who take this life saving five minute test, the fewer will face infertility, early menopause, more extensive long term effects and potentially even loss of life. It’s time we all acted as it may just save a life.”
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is running a campaign to raise awareness and this year sees the theme #SmearforSmear. Woman (and men) across social media are being urged to share selfies of lipstick smeared across their face in support of the cervical cancer awareness week.
The focus of the prevention week is on all things to do with cervical cancer including information about symptoms and causes of the disease, ways to prevent it and how to show support. They are asking people to take a lipstick smear selfie and nominate your friends to do the same, enabling the message to reach as many women as possible. Here is my smear selfie in support of the prevention week.
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