The 14th of June 2021 sees this year’s annual Cervical Screening Awareness Week. But what exactly is Cervical Screening, and why is it important enough to get its own week?
We’ll explain everything you need to know about Cervical Screening Awareness Week and why it’s worth keeping note of it in your diary.
The cold, hard facts:
Many of us have heard of the notorious “smear test," but fewer know about what the test actually is looking for, and fewer still make a point of discussing this slightly invasive if potentially lifesaving procedure with our friends and family.
Put simply, this is why Cervical Screening (smear tests) gets its own week. Did you know, cervical screening prevents three in four of all cervical cancers from developing, and yet a quarter of women in the UK don’t attend their appointments?
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in young women, and screening is thought to save as many as 5,000 deaths per year. Awareness for Cervical Screening is essential to improving these numbers and reducing the number of deaths in women.
An important part of spreading awareness is understanding what exactly a smear, or cervical screening, is, so that when that letter comes through the door, women know not to fear or dismiss it.
A smear test is a quick, routine procedure that usually takes five minutes or less. During the procedure, a doctor or nurse will check for abnormal cells on the cervix that could potentially lead to cervical cancer.
You will be asked to recline in one of the medical beds or couches in a doctor’s office in private, although you can request a companion. You will remove your underwear, and the doctor or nurse will carefully insert a small instrument called a speculum into your vagina, in order to access the cervix.
They will then use a small, soft brush to quickly collect some cells from your cervix. That’s it! Once the cells are taken, the sample is sent off to a laboratory, and you will usually find out your results within 2-10 weeks. If for any reason you don’t hear back about your results, do contact your GP.
If at any point during the test you feel pain or discomfort, you can tell the doctor or nurse and they might be able to find a way to reduce your discomfort. Do remember, you are in control the whole time. If for any reason you want the test to stop then it will.
To book a cervical screening test, simply contact your local GP. You will also receive a letter in the post to invite you to book an appointment.
Yes! Cervical screening is an important test for women between 25-49 and you can still book a test at through your local GP.
This Cervical Screening Awareness Week, make sure you, and the women in your life understand the importance of cervical screening, and make sure you are up to date with your appointments – if you have never had one before, now is the time to book an appointment. It could save your life!