Cervial Cancer Awareness

What is cervical cancer?

 

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in a woman's cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina).  Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages. If you do have symptoms, the most common is unusual vaginal bleeding, which can occur after sex, in between periods or after the menopause.

 

Abnormal bleeding doesn't mean that you definitely have cervical cancer, but it should be investigated by your GP as soon as possible. If your GP thinks you might have cervical cancer, you should be referred to see a specialist within two weeks.

 

Symptoms of cervical cancer
 

The most common symptom of cervical cancer is bleeding from the vagina at times other than when you are having a period. You may have bleeding

  • Between periods

  • After or during sex

  • At any time if you are past your menopause

 

Some women also have:

 

  • A vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant

  • Discomfort or pain during sex

 

Doctors call pain related to sex dyspareunia. There are many other conditions that cause these symptoms. Most of them are much more common than cervical cancer. But you should go to your doctor straight away if you have any of these symptoms. You probably don't have cancer. But if you do, the sooner you are treated, the more likely you are to be cured and usually the less treatment you will need to have.

 

Pre cancerous cell changes do not usually have any symptoms. Which is why it is so important to have a regular smear test.

 

References: NHS Choices and Cancer Research UK

 

Further information can be found at the following links:

 

 

Screening for cervical cancer
 

Over the course of many years, the cells lining the surface of the cervix undergo a series of changes. In rare cases, these pre cancerous cells can become cancerous. However, cell changes in the cervix can be detected at a very early stage and treatment can reduce the risk of cervical cancer developing.

 

The NHS offers a cervical screening programme to all women from the age of 25. During cervical screening (previously known as a "smear test"), a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormalities.  An abnormal cervical screening test doesn't mean you definitely have cancer. Most abnormal results are caused by an infection or the presence of treatable pre cancerous cells, rather than cancer itself.

 

Women aged 25 to 49 years of age are offered screening every three years, and women aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every five years. For women who are 65 or older, only those who haven't been screened since they were 50, or those who have had recent abnormal tests, are offered screening.

 

You should be sent a letter confirming when your screening appointment is due. Contact your GP if you think you may be overdue for a screening appointment.

 

Further information can be found at the following links:

 

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