Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers afflicting women which is why we are dedicated to raising awareness and education around this disease and reminding ladies to book their smear tests.

  • 2 Women lose their lives to the disease every day
  • 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day
  • 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by cervical screening (smear tests)

How can you reduce your risk of cervical cancer?

The most effective measures for preventing cervical cancer are cervical screening and the HPV vaccination. Additionally, implementing certain lifestyle changes can also help reduce the risk of developing this type of cancer.

We want to ensure all women know how cervical cancer can be prevented. This means:

  • Attending cervical screening when invited
  • Knowing the symptoms of cervical cancer and seeking medical advice if experiencing any
  • Taking up the HPV vaccination if aged 11-18
  • Knowing where to find support and further information

Don’t Let Embarrassment Stop You from Getting Your Smear Test!

Cervical screening prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing, yet did you know that almost one in three women across the UK don’t take up their Cervical Screening Invitation? This month is a great opportunity to increase the number of people attending their test by raising awareness of its importance.

All women in the UK aged 25 to 49 are invited for a screening test every three years and those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years.

Since almost all cases of the disease are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, vaccines that protect against the virus could prevent the vast majority of cases. Moreover, regular Smear tests can catch and lead to treatment of the disease at the precancerous stage.This simple test can help stop cervical cancer before it starts, so it’s an incredibly important test.

Linda Hayes, Cervical Screening Outreach Nurse at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said: “If you have received an invitation to go for your routine cervical smear then please do not ignore the letter. The test should take no more than 15 minutes and could save your life.”

Cervical Screening or Smear Tests as many of us refer to them are a procedure that checks the health of your cervix.  The procedure is carried out by our trained, experienced Practice Nurse. Cervical Screening is NOT a test for cancer, it is a test to help prevent cancer by detecting any changes to the cells of the cervix. Being screened regularly means any abnormal changes in the cells can be identified and if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.

To book your cervical screening appointment with a practice nurse please contact your GP practice today!

What happens when you go for your cervical screening?

The screening test usually takes around 5 minutes to carry out.

You’ll be asked to undress from the waist down and lie on a couch, although you can remain fully dressed if you are wearing a loose skirt/dress.

The nurse will gently put an instrument called a speculum into your vagina, this holds the walls of the vagina open so the cervix can be seen.

The nurse or doctor will then use a small soft brush to gently collect some cells from the surface of your cervix. Although the procedure can be a little uncomfortable, it shouldn’t be painful. However, if you do find it painful let the nurse know as they may be able to reduce your discomfort.

Once the sample is taken, nurse will close the curtain allowing you to dress whilst they prepare the sample to be sent off to the laboratory.

The cell sample is then sent off to a laboratory for analysis and you should receive the result within 2 weeks.

Many women are nervous and embarrassed about the process of cervical screening, but there is no need to be, nurses carry out these tests every day and we are dedicated to making the process as comfortable and stress-free as possible. If it would help minimise your worries, you are also welcome to bring a chaperone to your appointment too.

If you would like to know more about cervical screening including a brief video on how cervical screening is done, please visit the following websites:

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells arise in the cervix, which connects the uterus to the vagina. When found early during regular screening, treatment is generally effective and many people with this cancer can be cured. More advanced disease is harder to treat, which is why regular screening is a key component of the effort to eradicate cervical cancer.

For a general guide about cervical cancer please take a look at the booklet below from Jo’s Trust.

Who gets cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer can affect anyone possessing a cervix. It is the third most common malignancy in women worldwide and usually develops in midlife, with most cases occurring among women younger than 50, although more than 15 percent of cases occur in women older than 65. This cancer is rarely seen in women younger than 20.

What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?

The main cause of cervical cancer is HPV infection. There are more than 100 types of HPV, but only a small number are linked to cancer; some other HPV types cause genital warts. About a dozen types are considered high-risk, or cancer-causing. Sexual contact is a common way to get HPV, but this can also occur through nonsexual skin-to-skin contact. For more information on the HPV vaccine please click HERE.

Other risk factors for cervical cancer include smoking, having chlamydia (a sexually transmitted infection), giving birth multiple times, oral contraceptive use, being overweight and a family history of cervical cancer.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Early cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cell changes don’t usually have symptoms and not everyone diagnosed with cervical cancer will have symptoms, that’s why it’s important to attend regular cervical screening.

Symptoms that may suggest cervical cancer but could also be due to other health conditions include:

  • Increased discharge from the vagina.
  • A change in the colour or odour of vaginal discharge.
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods.
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Bleeding after sex.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Difficulty urinating or loss of bladder control.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Pain in the area between the hip bones (pelvis)

There are many other conditions that cause these symptoms. Most of them are much more common than cervical cancer. However, you should see your doctor if you have any unusual vaginal bleeding, or any of the other symptoms mentioned here. Although your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer, it is important to get them checked.

When it comes to crafting a treatment plan for cervical cancer, it is essential to consider various factors unique to your situation. These factors could include the stage of your cancer, the size and location of the tumour, as well as your overall health and preference. Consequently, your comprehensive treatment plan may encompass a combination of surgical procedures, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery is often one of the primary treatment options for cervical cancer.

For tips on spotting cervical cancer early please take a look at the leaflet from Cancer Research UK below.

Further information and support can be found at the following websites: