Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Cervical Cancer Awareness Week

To be perfectly honest I hadn't realised it was Cervical Cancer Awareness Week until I saw people talking about it on Twitter.  I know I should probably be aware, especially as oncology and cancer treatment is such a huge part of my degree, yet some things do pass me by.  As women we all know about the national screening programme for cervical cancer and am sure we all dread that letter every three years.  But that few minutes of being uncomfortable every third year could save our lives.  Yet still a fifth of women are ignoring these letters, even more in the under thirty age group.  In our modern world I have to ask why? This test can mean the difference between changes being detected early, before the word cancer is even a part of the sentence spoken by a doctor, to the cancer invading.  A smear test ensures cell changes are found early, to stop them growing.

Sadly cervical cancer affects about 3000 women in the UK every year.  Yet I believe this number could be reduced if more of us were a little braver, a bit less flippant and had a smear test when requested.  Treatment for cervical cancer is gruelling, but I will not go into scaremongering with the details.  But believe me, a few minutes of being uncomfortable is far preferable.  Every time I go for mine I just think I have had five children, nothing is more embarrassing and uncomfortable than that, so I can survive this!

Whilst smear tests are the main way to detect changes it is also important to see your doctor if you are experiencing bleeding between periods, after or during sex, or anytime after the menopause.  However I don't want to panic you, these symptoms can be caused by other things too.  Perhaps you are worried you will have to sit and discuss this with a male doctor. Every surgery should have a female doctor so request this when you make an appointment.  

If you are worried the following websites are very helpful. They also offer support for people with cervical cancer and their families.

I shall step off my soapbox now. 

Until next time, take care.

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