It’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week from 23rd to 29th January 2023 - an annual awareness campaign to remind us why smear tests are so vital and to urge people to attend them. They’re by no means fun, but they are over quickly and regular screening and treatment for cell changes will save lives. To show Y.O.U underwear’s support for this important campaign, this blog shares two personal stories of cervical cancer and what happens if you get a result with abnormal cells…..
Let’s destigmatize smear tests
The UK’s leading cervical cancer charity Jo’s Trust, states that only 1 in 3 individuals take up their invite to a smear test. Women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 are eligible and will be invited by letter. If you are aged 25 to 49, the NHS will offer you the test every 3 years, and this changes to every 5 years when you reach 50. It’s not an appointment that many look forward to, more of a case just get it done, but absolutely worth going to as it’s crucial test to help prevent cancer. A smear test checks for potentially cancerous processes in the cervix or colon, a virus called human papillomavirus or HPV. The nurse won’t care if you haven’t shaved your legs or about anything else on show – so try and ditch those anxieties now!
Top Tips for smear tests
You can read more about what to expect at a smear test on the NHS website here
What happens if a smear test shows cell changes?
Cervical screening is designed to catch cell changes early. This diagram from NHS England shows the results for every 100 people who have cervical screening.
If cell changes are detected in a smear test, you could be invited back to your GP for monitoring and to have another test to check if cell changes have cleared or got better, and that they not getting worse. Alternatively, you could be referred for treatment to if there is a chance the cells could develop to a higher grade or into cervical cancer - this is what happened to both Charlotte 24 and Lisa 46, and you can hear from them first hand in these personal videos below:
Personal stories of cell changes
Ultimately, they are both so thankful for the care they received and that they went for their original smear test - otherwise their outcomes could have been very different.
If you’ve had a smear test that shows cell changes and are looking for guidance about next steps, we’re sharing these useful resources to help you:
So let’s all play our part in Cervical Cancer Prevention Week from 23rd to 29th January - if you’ve recently received a letter to have a smear test, for your own health and peace of mind, please do go – let’s try and get that 1 in 3 statistic way down! 😊