HEALTH MAT­TERS

Macclesfield Express - - MACCLESFIELD PEOPLE -

●● WITH Dr Paul Bowen, a GP with McIlvride Med­i­cal Prac­tice, Poyn­ton, and ex­ec­u­tive chair of NHS East­ern Cheshire Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group (CCG). IT will be six years in March since the death from cer­vi­cal can­cer of re­al­ity TV star Jade Goody, at just 27 years old.

Her death, while tragic, raised the pro­file of this con­di­tion and the im­por­tance of screen­ing.

Screen­ing in­volves a ‘smear’ taken by a nurse and helps to pre­vent such tragic cases oc­cur­ring in young women.

That’s why GPs in East­ern Cheshire will be work­ing to pre­vent need­less deaths by sup­port­ing Cer­vi­cal Can­cer Preven­tion Week, which runs from Jan­uary 25 to 31.

Nearly 3,000 women are di­ag­nosed with cer­vi­cal can­cer each year in the UK, yet 20 per cent of women do not take up their invitation for a smear.

This is very wor­ry­ing, as early-stage cer­vi­cal can­cers don’t usu­ally have symp­toms and are gen­er­ally de­tected through screen­ing.

Cer­vi­cal can­cer screen­ing is a very pow­er­ful and ef­fec­tive screen­ing tool that de­tects and treats pre­can­cer­ous ar­eas.

It de­tects changes in cer­vi­cal cells which could lead to cer­vi­cal can­cer.

In this way, it pre­vents full-blown cer­vi­cal can­cer and saves lives.

Women aged 25 to 65 are in­vited for screen­ing.

Women be­tween the ages of 25 and 49 are screened ev­ery three years, while those aged 50 to 64 are screened five yearly.

When symp­toms do ap­pear, they nor­mally in­clude ab­nor­mal bleed­ing, un­usual dis­charge and pain dur­ing sex.

Women who have ex­pe­ri­enced th­ese symp­toms should talk to their GP.

Chances are it won’t be cer­vi­cal can­cer, but bet­ter to get it checked.

For younger women, there is now a vac­ci­na­tion against the hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus (HPV) in­fec­tion that causes changes to the cer­vi­cal cells.

The vac­cine can help pre­vent 70 per cent of cer­vi­cal can­cers.

In older women, the most ef­fec­tive method of pre­vent­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer is through the reg­u­lar cer­vi­cal screen­ing which hap­pens by invitation and which al­lows de­tec­tion of any early changes of the cervix.

Cer­vi­cal can­cer is largely pre­ventable and, if caught early, sur­vival rates are high.

The can­cer forms in tis­sues of the cervix – the or­gan con­nect­ing the uterus and vag­ina.

It is not thought to be hered­i­tary.

●● Dr Paul Bowen

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