Your cervix, your health | Don’t skip the smear test

Cervical Screening Awareness Week runs from 17 to 23 June 2024.

This week is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of regular cervical screening (smear tests) for women’s health. Here’s everything you need to know.

Why is cervical screening important?

Cervical screening helps detect abnormal cell changes in the cervix that, if untreated, could develop into something more serious. Nearly one in three women do not attend their cervical screening tests, yet these tests save thousands of lives each year. Screening is crucial even if you’ve had the HPV vaccination, as the vaccine does not protect against all strains of the virus.

What happens during cervical screening?

A cervical screening test, often referred to as a smear test, involves collecting cells from the cervix to check for the presence of high-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is responsible for nearly all cervical cancers. The test is quick and should not be painful, although it may be slightly uncomfortable. If you’re worried, talk to your GP or nurse about how to make the process easier for you.

Who should get screened?

In the UK, cervical screening is offered to anyone with a cervix aged 25 to 64. It’s recommended to get screened regularly, and you will receive invitations by post when it’s time for your next test.

Tips for a better screening experience

  • Book a longer appointment: This gives you more time to ask questions and feel prepared.
  • Bring someone you trust: Having a friend or family member with you can provide comfort.
  • Ask for a smaller speculum: If you’re worried about discomfort, request a smaller speculum.
  • Wear a skirt or dress: This can help you feel more covered during the test.
  • Communicate with your nurse: Don’t hesitate to discuss concerns or ask for support.

How to get involved

  • Raise awareness: Share information on social media using the hashtags #CervicalScreeningAwarenessWeek and #CSAW24. You can also use posters and resources from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
  • Share your story: Personal experiences can help others feel less alone. Share your journey on social media or community forums.
  • Fundraising and events: Organise or participate in events to support cervical cancer charities.

More information

For more details on cervical screening and support, visit the websites of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.

By raising awareness and encouraging regular screenings, we can work towards a future where cervical cancer is a thing of the past. Don’t wait, book your screening today and encourage others to do the same.

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