In the UK, there are thousands of new cervical cancer cases every year, but early diagnosis increases the chances of having a successful treatment and prevent the development of the cancerous cells. With cervical screening, most women avoid abnormal cells in their cervix, developing into cancerous cells, but some women tend to avoid going to a clinic for their smear test.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women who are below the age of 35. Cervical cancer is preventable, and with the recent introduction of the HPV vaccination programme, creating a revolution in the medical world, the number of new cases is reducing drastically. The new private HPV vaccine is very effective in preventing HPV- related cervical cancer. The vaccine is available on the NHS, but for girls within a limited age bracket.
The human papillomavirus is a highly infectious and harmful virus. The HPV strains that cause cervical cancer was discovered by Harold Zur Hausen, a German virologist in 1983. Since the discovery of the virus, a better screening than pap test which check for cervical cancer is available to detect the presence of HPV in the cervix.
The Pap test is a procedure that involves a doctor or nurse using a spatula or small brush to take cells from the cervix for examination under a microscope. The microscopic examination checks for cancerous cells or abnormal cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer. The pap test does not check for cancer but only detects its early signs.
Looking out for symptoms
Cervical cancer results from abnormal cells growing uncontrollably in the lining of the cervix (the entrance of the womb from the vagina), and in the early stages of cervical cancer, there is usually no symptom. In a few cases, symptoms occur as vaginal bleeding during or after sex, in between periods or after menopause.
If you have abnormal bleeding, it does not mean you have cervical cancer but visit a doctor who will investigate to determine the cause of the bleeding.
Women between the ages of 25 – 49 are offered routine cervical screening every three years in England. Women between 50 – 64 years will get the screening every five years. There was a review for younger women to get cervical screening. However, some evidence showed that cervical screening is not effective in women below 25 years because women under 25 usually have cell changes in their cervix.
The procedure for cervical screening is similar to that of a pap smear test, but it checks for HPV using the cell sample that the doctor or nurse takes from the cervix.
In the UK, there has been a centralised NHS screening programme since 1988, and this screening programme was recently introduced in England and Wales.
Importance of routine cervical screening
About 99.7% of cervical cancer cases are linked to high-risk HPV infection, and a lot of women die yearly from this type of cancer. Even with the large number of women dying from cervical cancer and the new cases reported every year, more women are still avoiding their smear test.
About 1 in 4 women avoid their routine screening due to body-consciousness. Other women do not understand the importance of the screening, so they think they do not need it. Being embarrassed about your body should never stop you from getting your routine cervical screening as the doctor will always try to make you feel comfortable.
If you carry out cervical screening regularly, it serves as an effective tool in preventing cervical cancer. In some countries, aside from the UK, doctors advise women to carry out their cervical smear screening once every year.
Get your cervical screening now
You should get your cervical screening as soon as possible to reduce your risk of cervical cancer. If you are in London, private HPV test at Gynaecology Clinic is available to all women, and you will also get advice on HPV treatment if your test result shows the presence of HPV.
You can also get your private HPV vaccination to prevent high-risk HPV that could cause cervical cancer. Call us now on 020 7183 0435 to book an appointment for your HPV test.