Cervical cancer Prevention week

4 minute read time.

Let's talk about Cervical cancer prevention written in white over an image of a close up of someone's knee's wearing a hospital gown

This week is Cervical cancer prevention week. We wanted to share some information and resources to help answer many of the questions asked here on the Community.

Please remember that you are welcome to post in our Ask a Nurse section or contact the Macmillan Support Line if you need some additional guidance.

Very early stage Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms. It is usually found and treated because of Cervical screening tests.

What are the symptoms of Cervical cancer and when should you get tested?

It’s good to know the potential symptoms of cervical cancer. Whilst many of them can be symptoms of other conditions it is important that we speak to our GP with any of the following;

  • Heavier periods that you normally would have
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex or after the menopause.
  • Vaginal bleeding after sex
  • Vaginal bleeding after the menopause (after you have stopped having periods)
  • Pain in the lower tummy or back.

It’s important to have any symptoms checked by a GP and not to wait for the next cervical screening appointment.

Below are some of the experiences our members have shared on the Community;

 “I just thought it was my PCOS (my gp said I was too young for this cancer when I mentioned it the year before after I had 1 set of spotting)  I have had irregular periods for years. I only mentioned it because I was having a smear test and the spotting had returned a few months before, I just expected her to say the same but she sent me for the tests. I don’t get pain apart from period pain. I was perfectly well when I went for the smear test. I feel completely poorly now due to all the stress. It’s scary just how little symptoms there is.”
- BellaH,

“After reading up on cervical cancer it mentions bleeding which I have also had a bit of and it is uncomfortable having sex for a few years (this is since having children so I could just be reading google and think I have all the symptoms like you do!) 

I have also had a pain in one of my legs for a few weeks, it started around my bum/hip and has now moved to my knee and shin but only really hurts when sitting down.”

- Frankey, Cervical cancer forum

“I am 40 and just over a year ago I went to the GP with some concerns over heavy bleeding, bleeding after intercourse, bleeding between periods and lower back and abdominal pain. I was given an examination and a smear was taken and a referral put in to Gynaecology. The GP wasn't overly concerned and said it just looked like a nabothian cyst with a venus blood supply that was likely to be causing the issues.”
- Ali80, Cervical cancer forum

Can I still go from my Cervical cancer screening with the current coronavirus restrictions in place?

There are many concerns about booking cancer screenings with the current demands the NHS is facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. There are delays to invitations and follow-up appointments, so any change or worsening symptom must be checked by your GP.

It is important that you contact your GP surgery or local clinic to book your Cervical cancer screenings and go to the next available date.

What is Cervical Screening?

Initial Cervical screening is typically known as a Smear test. The NHS offers regular Cervical screening from the age of 25 to 64 to women who are registered with a GP. The test aims to prevent Cervical cancer from developing.

The NHS cervical screening programme uses tests to:

  • check for abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix
  • decide if these changes should be treated.

There is more information about a Smear test on the main Macmillan website. Click here to read more.

What if I have an abnormal smear test?

If you have had an abnormal smear test following your cervical screening test, you may be referred directly for a colposcopy. This test uses a microscope called a colposcope to look closely at your cervix.

If the colposcopy shows abnormal cells on the cervix, you may also have treatment to remove the abnormal cells. Click here to view more information about diagnosing Cervical cancer.

If you have had an abnormal smear test, you are not alone. There are many conversations like the one below in the Cervical cancer forum and you are welcome to share yours if you feel comfortable doing so.

“I just hadn't understood the cervical screening system as I had never had an abnormal result before; one of the GPs at my practice told me that colposcopy is just another part of the screening process and that made me feel a little bit better. In future when I go for medical screenings I think I will make a point of asking what will happen if I test positive for whatever they are testing for so that I have more idea of the system.”
- Janeautenfan

Have other questions?
An image of the Understanding Cervical cancer booklet

Depending on your situation you may have more questions and need further guidance. Our expert nurses on the Community and on the Support Line are here to help. You may also find our Understanding Cervical cancer booklet helpful if you want more detailed information about:

  • Symptoms
  • Testing
  • Diagnosing
  • Cervical cancer and HPV

    The Community is always here to offer you support and you are very welcome to join the Cervical cancer forum and other Community groups if you are in need of some support.