Advice for North Lincolnshire women on preventing cervical cancer
Cervical cancer has attracted much media attention in recent years, largely because of Jade Goody's death from the disease in 2009 – but have we learned enough?
In the run up to Cervical Cancer Prevention Week later this month, 20 per cent of women in the UK still fail to attend cervical screening when invited.
Figures announced towards the end of 2012 indicate that the situation is worse in the 25-29 age group.
Although the downward trend for screening in this age group is showing a very small reversal, in 2011/12 almost one in three women aged 25-29 still ignore their invitation for screening.
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Recent research shows that a high number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer either delayed or ignored their screening invitation.
Cervical screening can prevent cervical cancer and is estimated to save up to 5,000 lives each year.
Each year in the UK, 3,300 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and more than half of these are in women under the age of 50.
Although very rare in women under 25, it is the second most common cancer in women under 35.
The Eve Appeal's face-to-face survey of 1,400 women in England, has also identified a common misconception amongst women with regards to cervical screening, with 56 per cent of women incorrectly believing screening can also pick up signs of ovarian cancer.
For women of all ages, the best way of reducing your risk of developing cervical cancer is regular screening and in England women aged 25 to 49 are invited for screening every three years, and screening continues every five years for women aged 50 to 64
However, it is important to understand that cervical screening is not a test for cervical cancer, rather for abnormal cells on the cervix which can lead to cervical cancer.
Abnormal cells on the cervix don't usually have any symptoms, which is why it is so important to go for screenings regularly.
If there are signs of abnormal cells, treating them is often simple and can prevent cancer developing.
Robert Marsh, chief executive of The Eve Appeal, which raises awareness of gynaecological cancers, said: "Our hopes are that increased awareness around the importance of regular screening, along with further understanding as to what the screening is set out to detect, will help dispel any outstanding myths and encourage women to attend their cervical screening promptly when invited."
Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by a common sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV) which most women have at some time but usually clears up on its own.
If the infection doesn't clear up there is a risk of abnormal cells developing which could become cervical cancer over time.
Mr Marsh said: "Almost all cases of cervical cancer can be prevented by screening and HPV vaccination.
"The earlier cervical cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome will be.
"Screening is free and can save your life so please, please pick up the phone as soon as that letter drops through the letterbox."
To reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer:
• Go for screening when invited
• Have the HPV vaccine if you are offered it
• If you smoke, try to stop
• Use a condom to reduce your risk of HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.