Cervical Cancer Prevention Week: book your cervical screening
People in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are being encouraged to book for their cervical screening when invited.
National figures suggest two women die every day from cervical cancer in England, yet cervical screening can identify changes in the cervix and allow treatment before cancer has even developed.
During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (22-28 January), local doctors and nurses are encouraging people to attend cervical screening appointments to check for human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cell changes that can lead to cancer if left undetected and untreated.
Women and people with a cervix aged 25-64 are eligible for screening yet according to figures, one in three women do not take up their cervical screening invite.
And a survey for cancer charity Jo’s Trust found that ethnic minority women of screening age were more likely than white women to say they had never attended a screening (12% versus 8%).
Screening takes just a few minutes, and, in most cases, are carried out every three to five years.
BNSSG Integrated Care Board Clinical Lead for Cancer, Dr Glenda Beard, said:
“When you are invited to attend a cervical screening it is something that should not be ignored. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, but only if people attend their screenings.
“We know that around one in three women from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities feel that more information about cervical screening would make them more likely to attend a screening. That’s why the NHS has materials available in multiple languages to help explain the process.
“All women and people with a cervix within the age bracket, regardless of ethnic background, should come forward for these screenings. Cervical cancer can happen to anyone with a cervix. Smoking tobacco is also recognised to increase the risk of cervical cancer, this is yet another reason to quit smoking.”
“We know that people can feel nervous about attending this type of appointment, but I can assure you that for most women it is a quick and pain-free procedure. If you are uncertain about attending our practice nurses would be happy to answer any questions you have and think about any adjustments that can be made to help you such as a longer appointment or bringing someone with you. A cervical screening test takes a few minutes and may save your life.”
Cervical screening appointments are available evenings and weekends are available at some GP practices for ease of access.
Naomi Havergal, 34 from South Bristol, was grateful for attending her cervical screening appointment after abnormal cells were detected in her cervix.
“I went for my cervical screening as usual when my letter arrived inviting me to make an appointment. When my results came back, they had detected abnormal cells, so I was invited to attend a procedure to have the cells removed.
“The abnormal cells were analysed, and they turned out to be high grade which meant, if I had not attended that initial cervical screening appointment, it was likely I would have developed cervical cancer.
“Life would be very different now, if a life at all.”
Watch the video below of ITV West Country raising awareness of the importance of cervical screenings.
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, a common virus that four out of five (80%) of us will have at some point in our lives.
HPV vaccinations are available to all children in year 8, as part of the national NHS school-age immunisations programme. If your child hasn’t been vaccinated, you can contact the School Age Immunisations Team to book an appointment.
- The NHS Cervical Screening Programme saves thousands of lives every year by checking for high-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes nearly all cervical cancers.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a common group of viruses that can cause various conditions such as genital warts or cancer.
- NHS Screening figures show that 30% of women in Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities feel that more information about cervical screening would make them more likely to attend and 21% said they didn’t think they were eligible for a cervical screening.
- England is one of the first countries in the world to commit to eliminating cervical cancer with an ambition to do so by 2040.