Cervical Screening Awareness Week runs from 19 to 24 of June 2023. The week aims to highlight the importance of regular cervical screening for women and those with a cervix.
If you have a cervix and you're between the ages of 25 and 64, you should be offered a regular cervical smear test. One in four patients don't attend their cervical screening test.
Why are cervical screenings important?
Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in women under 35 with two women per day, in the UK, dying from the disease. Regular cervical screening appointments can prevent up to 75% of instances of cervical cancer, saving 5,000 lives per year.
A cervical smear test checks for abnormal cell changes in the cervix. Cervical cell changes are common, and often improve naturally. Abnormal cell changes in the cervix do not present with any symptoms. You will not know if you have them unless you have cervical screening. Sometimes these changes need treatment because there is a risk they may develop into cancer. The aim is to find the small number of people who need treatment to prevent cancer.
Cervical screening is important to have, even if you have had the HPV vaccination. The vaccination protects against the most common types of high-risk HPV which cause cervical cancers. It does not protect against all types.
Who is eligible for cervical screening?
Cervical screening invitations are sent to eligible women and people with a cervix who are registered with a GP six months before their 25th birthday. Screening invitations are then sent every three years up to the age of 49. People aged 50 to 64 will receive invitations every five years.
Should I be worried about cervical screening?
You do not need to prepare in any way for a smear test. You may find it helpful to wear loose and comfortable clothing that you can remove easily. While it is not very comfortable, the procedure will usually take five to ten minutes to complete.
If you are anxious about your screening, there are different ways to help minimise those feelings:
- focus on your in-breath and your out-breath.
- focus on five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.
- relax your body bit by bit. Focus on relaxing the muscles in your face, arms, legs and back.
- listen to music.
- think positively that you are taking care of yourself and your health
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.