Cervical cancer is the most common cancer amongst females under 35 in the UK, with around 9 new cases being diagnosed each day. This makes getting regular smear tests a really important issue for women. This year Cervical Cancer Prevention Week takes place between the 22nd and 28th of January, with a big emphasis on what we can do to raise awareness of cervical cancer, and learn how to prevent it.
100% of cervical cancer cases are preventable
This may seem like a shocking statement, but it’s true. According to Cancer Research UK, ALL cases of cervical cancer are preventable. Whilst diagnosis rates halved between the 1980s and the early 2000s, today the statistics show a steady increase in the amount of young women who are being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Cervical Cancer Prevention Week aims to raise awareness of what can be done to prevent cervical cancer, as well as the importance of early detection, which can help to save thousands of lives.
About Cervical Cancer Prevention Week
In association with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Cervical Cancer Prevention Week aims to educate people across the UK about cervical cancer, its symptoms and prevention, in a bid to cut rates. Part of the aims of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2016 include:
Raising awareness of the HPV vaccination
The HPV vaccination makes it possible to prevent all cervical cancer cases caused by the HPV virus. The vaccine is currently available to girls aged 12-13, an age where most girls have yet to become sexually active, and protects against cervical cancers caused by HPV as well as genital warts. The vaccine is available for free up until the age of 18 on the NHS, and it’s important that any girls who miss the vaccine speak to their GP about receiving it.
Raising awareness of cervical screening
Women can be screened for cervical cancer from the age of 25. Many women, for whatever reason, put off having a smear test, but it’s extremely important that women have regular checks in order to detect cervical cancer early to improve the chances of survival. Hundreds of women have smear tests every day, and there is nothing to be concerned about. Smear tests can save lives and increasing awareness of this is just one way in which diagnosis rates can be brought down.
Highlighting the symptoms of cervical cancer
Being aware of the symptoms of cervical cancer can help with early diagnosis. Some symptoms include bleeding between periods, bleeding before or after sex, pain or discomfort during or after sex and others. Most women know their own bodies, but if something feels different or uncomfortable, it’s important to book an appointment with a doctor to rule out the possibility of cervical cancer.
Get involved with Cervical Cancer Prevention Week
There are many ways you can get involved with Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, and the first step is to ensure that you’re up to date with your smear test. Other ways which you can participate include:
- The #SmearforSmear lipstick selfie campaign, which asks you to post a selfie with your lipstick smeared to raise awareness of cervical screening online
- Put up posters in your workplace, school, university or other areas in order to raise awareness
- Host fundraising activities to raise money
If you’re interested in hosting a fundraising event in the East Berkshire area, Jo’s Trust has plenty of great resources to help you get started. Volunteers will help to ensure Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs as smoothly as possible, so if you can give some of your time to raising awareness in your local area, your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
If you have any concerns about cervical cancer, or if you’re due a smear test, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. Putting it off is what can lead to a difficult prognosis so don’t delay in making your appointment. For more information about cervical cancer, as well as the screening process, you’ll find plenty of information on the NHS website.