SPECIAL REPORT: Raising awareness and saving lives – that’s the Test that saved young mum’s life
EMMELINE Collin had no reason to think anything was wrong when she went for a routine smear test.
But – despite having no symptoms at all – the Peterborough mum-of-one was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which may have killed her had it not been picked up on the test.
Now, just over a year later, the 33-year-old has had surgery to remove the cancer, which was caught early enough for her to have an excellent chance of a complete recovery.
Emmeline is a prime example of why cervical screening can be a life-saver, a fact which is at the core of Cervical Screening Awareness Week, which starts on Monday.
Emmeline said: “There was no way I knew there was anything wrong – I just went for a routine smear as if I was going to buy a pint of milk.
“I had no symptoms and no worries. If I’d ignored the screening letter and thought I didn’t need to go because there was nothing wrong with me, then goodness knows what would have happened.
“I had an invasive cancer growing inside me that I knew nothing about.
“If I hadn’t gone, worst case scenario is that I might not be here, or I could have left it so late that I might have had to have much worse treatment.”
Currently, 20 per cent of UK women do not attend cervical screening appointments, putting themselves at risk of becoming one of the 2,828 women in the country who develop cervical cancer every year. Around 1,000 die from the disease.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the charity behind the awareness week, wants to get the message across to all women that cervical cancer is largely preventable. It is estimated screening saves 4,500 lives a year.
If it is not caught early, treatment may be aggressive, such as hysterectomy or radiotherapy.
But if caught early, patients like Emmeline can avoid such trauma. She had a trachelectomy, a relatively new treatment which is not yet widely available, which preserves a woman’s fertility.
The surgery, which can be per- formed on some women who have very early invasive cervical cancer, involves removing the cervix and the lymph glands in the pelvic area, but leaving the womb in place.
Emmeline said: “I’ve been left with the opportunity of having another child, which I would have lost if I didn’t go for the screening.”
Cervical cancer and the importance of screening was brought to the public’s attention in March last year, when Big Brother star Jade Goody died from the disease. The 27-year-old mother-oftwo had abnormal cells removed from her cervix on several occasions, but did not have a follow
TRAGEDY: Jade Goody, whose death last tear led to a boost in women having cervical cancer screening.