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This blog will give you regular, high-quality information about cancer. We hope you find it useful. And if there's any topic you'd like us to blog about, just let us know.
Last week was Cervical
Cancer Prevention Week,
so we’ve written a blog to give you a run-through of symptoms and cervical
cancer is the most
common cancer in women aged 35 and under* Yet only a third of women would visit
their doctor if they had symptoms of cervical cancer.**
We know that the
earlier a cancer is found, the more likely it is that treatment will be
successful. Most of the time, symptoms are caused by something other than
cancer, but just in case, it’s really important to see your GP or nurse.
Things to look out for:
It can be embarrassing to talk about these symptoms, but getting them checked
out can make a real difference.
Cervical screening (smear
For most women, cervical
screening can prevent
screening is a way of detecting early
changes to cells of the cervix, which could go on to become cancer. Once identified, the abnormalities
can be treated, preventing cancer.
Women aged 25+ in England and Northern Ireland, or
20+ in Scotland and Wales, should be invited for a
test as part of the NHS
test can be uncomfortable, it’s not
painful and lasts less than five minutes.
Watch our video
of Consultant Gynecological Surgeon Richard Smith
explaining cervical screening.
The screening result
Most women who have a
cervical screening test have a normal result. Some women’s tests will show that
they have changes in the cells of their cervix, which is
known as an abnormal result. Obviously this can be scary, but remember, it
doesn’t mean you have cancer. It may mean you need further tests. These cell changes
are normally not due to cancer.
Sometimes they are
conditions that could develop into cancer, but these can normally be very
successfully treated before this happens. Very few women with an abnormal test
result have cancer of the cervix.
We have a free booklet about cervical
explains more about the test and results. You can also get it as an audiobook.
HPV and cancer
Cell changes in
the cervix are often associated with the human
papilloma virus (HPV), which
is transmitted by sexual intercourse. Contrary to popular belief, HPV is actually
very common. There are over 100 types of HPV, and most people who are sexually
active will have it at some time during their life. HPV is not cancer. For most
people, infections come and go without causing any problems.
Only some types
of the virus, known as high-risk types, may go on to cause cell changes in the
cervix, which could develop into cervical cancer if not treated.
A cervical screening test can very occasionally detect early cervical cancer, but most women with an abnormal test result have early cell changes and not cancer.
Very few women
with an abnormal test result have cancer of the cervix. If you are diagnosed
with cervical cancer, we have lots of information on our website about treatment and living
with cervical cancer.
We also have a
about cervical cancer,
which covers diagnosis, treatment, side effects and living with cancer. It’s also
available as an audiobook.
Benefits and limitations of cervical screening
have cervical screening should be your own decision, so we’re going to round
off with some pros and cons, which we hope will help you decide what’s right
Remember, if you have any questions about cancer or screening, you can talk to our cancer support specialists or your GP.
Ideas for blog posts? Let us know.Comments? Feel free to add them below (you need to be logged in). If you can't see the comment box, click on this blog's title at the top.
*Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. http://www.jostrust.org.uk/about-cervical-cancer**Report by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. http://www.itv.com/news/story/2013-01-21/only-a-third-of-women-would-visit-a-doctor-if-the-experienced-cervical-cancer-symptoms/***NHS Cancer Screening. Cervical cancer screening. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/preventing-cancer/Pages/cancer-screening.aspx
Are your statistics accurate Abi? Melanoma must give cervical cancer a very very close run for second place in under 35 year old female cancer patients (and men for that matter, since melanoma doesn't discriminate). What I find most disconcerting is that almost as many melanoma patients will die in any given year as are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
When are you going to give melanoma the high profile it deserves?
statistics here have come from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s dedicated
charity for women with cervical cancer. They are accredited with the
Information Standard, like Macmillan are, which ensures that they’re
information goes through rigorous checking to make sure it’s up-to-date,
accurate and evidence-based.
just had a look at Cancer Research UK’s web pages for cervical cancer and
melanoma, as they have lots of official cancer statistics. You’re right in
saying that the numbers for diagnosis are similar in this group, with cervical
cancer being only very slightly higher than melanoma. When you look at all ages
and sexes though, melanoma is more common, and causes more deaths.
would never want to neglect anyone with regards to the information they need,
no matter how common or uncommon their cancer is. What we wanted to achieve
with this blog was to remind women of the benefits of cervical screening,
because it has the potential to prevent so many more deaths.
be happy to write the next blog about melanoma. Perhaps we could highlight it
as the second most common cancer in 25- to 49-year-olds, and as the most common
cancer in 15- to 24-year-old women, before going on to explain the symptoms,
what to look out for, and maybe debunking some common myths around melanoma. What do you think? Any ideas you have on what you
think people need to be better informed about would be much appreciated.
thanks for your comment,
I'd like to see that Abi, people need to be made aware that it's not just skin cancer, it can't just be cut out, it's not only sun bed abusers that acquire it, we didn't bring it on ourselves and it is serious!
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