Sleaford Medical Group’s senior partner, Dr Vindi Bhandal, continues her monthly column on health and wellbeing, focussed on local readers. This time she writes about an important campaign for the early detection of cervical cancer:-
“This month I want to raise awareness of the importance of smear tests for women.
March 5 saw the launch of a national campaign by public health England to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening for women between the age of 25-64. The aim of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme is to reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and the number of women who die from it.
The NHS cervical screening programme was established in 1988, it saves an estimated 5,000 lives a year. In the last few years there has been a fall in the number of women who are attending for routine smear testing, coverage has fallen to 71 per cent which is significantly lower than the 80 per cent national target, especially younger women between 25-35.
You may have seen information on the TV, on social media or posters in the doctor’s surgery encouraging women to attend when invited for a smear test. I would advise women who have any anxieties with regard to having a smear test, to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns.
All women between 25-64 are invited for regular smears, every three or five years for routine cervical screening. The smear test is usually carried out by nurses, it takes about 5-10 minutes and can be a little uncomfortable but should not be painful. Results are normally reported within two-to-four weeks.
It is a preventative measure, for early detection of abnormal changes in the cells at the cervix and, if necessary, further treatment to stop cancer developing. In cases where there are abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix, screening for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is carried out as there are two specific types of HPV which are linked to cancer and those who test positive for HPV will be referred for colposcopy.
Fear and embarrassment can discourage women from attending for cervical, screening but the potential benefits of screening has and can save lives.”