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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.
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*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
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2015
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