●● 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