This post isn’t pretty or fashionable, it’s not trendy and it’s not going to get rid of wrinkles. What it could do though is save your life.
You may be the most physically active person (in terms of fitness) or the most obese; it doesn’t matter. Cervical cancer is still a risk. What’s worth noting is that risk is 74-80% higher in those women with a history of the cancer in first degree relatives (mother, sister, daughter) compared to the general population so if this is you, that’s another reason get checked.
Sadly there’s a strong history and frequency of cancer among the females in my family and my life turned upside down when I lost my Nan to Cancer over three years ago. Like hundreds of people who have lost a loved one to cancer, I’ve never gotten over it, it’s just something I live with. For me, my sister and mother it’s imperative that we get frequently checked. Smear tests (or cervical screening as it’s also known with the NHS) was first introduced in the 1980’s and since then, the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year. Amazing. But what’s important is that women, like me and you, continue to get screened and tested.
All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening at ages:
- 25 to 49 – every three years
- 50 to 64 – every five years
- over 65 – only women who haven’t been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests
So there’s no excuse.
My other Nan also had cancer and thankfully, the developments in research and treatments meant that when it was found early on at Grade 1, luckily it was sorted immediately and has since had a few ‘all clear’. The optimal words here are ‘early on’ and the only way that was possible was by testing. I’m thankful everyday that she is alive and well. Now it’s important to understand that cervical screening is NOT a test to find cancer. It is a screening test to detect changes to the cells of the cervix, which are called cervical abnormalities or precancer. So essential nonetheless. Each year around five million women in the UK are invited for cervical screening (smear test) and about 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.
Regular Screening Saves Lives
So what’s involved? “Cervical screening is the process of taking a sample of cells from your cervix, which are then examined under a microscope in order to detect changes in the cells (abnormalities) that might develop into cancer in the future. The sample of cells is placed in a liquid to help preserve the sample so that it can be analysed in the laboratory. This process is called liquid-based cytology (LBC). Screening can detect changes to the cells of the cervix, and the detection and successful treatment of these cells usually prevents cervical cancer from developing”.