Bradford – Hospital specialists in the city are reminding women not to be complacent about their health during this week’s national Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
Every day in the UK, eight women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three women will lose their lives to the disease.
Cervical cancer is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme – yet uptake of cervical screening is now going down year on year. Recent research has shown that the percentage of women aged 25 to 64 within the Bradford City CCG accessing cervical screening programmes was 62.5 per cent, lower than the national average of 74.3 percent.
“Early detection is key to increasing survival rates and educating everyone on the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it,” said Suzanne Taylor, nurse colposcopist at Bradford Teaching Hospitals. “It’s vital that women attend their routine smear test invitations and don’t ignore their appointment as this test can help reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
“Cervical Cancer Prevention Week provides us with an opportunity to remind women that they need to take care and listen to their bodies.”
The focus of this year’s awareness week is to remind women of cervical cancer symptoms and causes of the disease, as well as ways to prevent it.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women aged 35 or under.
In the majority of cases, the disease is caused by a persistent infection with a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes damage to the cervical cells. HPV is a common virus transmitted through skin to skin contact in the genital area.
Symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious at first and there are sometimes no symptoms with early stage cervical cancer. There are however recognised symptoms associated with the disease, such as unusual bleeding during or after sexual intercourse, inter-menstrual bleeding and persistent, unpleasant or unusual vaginal discharge.
Suzanne added: “Cervical screening, available to all women aged between 25 and 64, is a key method of preventing cervical cancer as it detects any early abnormalities on the cervix which if left untreated could lead to cancer.
“The highest incidence of cervical cancer occurring is in women aged between 30 and 39. Cervical screening is a simple and painless procedure and with early detection and treatment, it is estimated to prevent up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers.
“We urge women to book an appointment with their GP as soon as they receive their reminder or to contact their GP if they think their screening is due or if they are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above.
“If you are diagnosed early, the outlook will usually be very good and a complete cure is often possible. It is so important for women to listen to their bodies, report anything suspicious and attend their screening appointments every three years.”
Suzanne is currently undertaking joint work with the Shipley-based ARCH (Advice, Rehabilitation, Counselling and Health) charity.
This Friday (29 January) she will join the charity at a special event at Shipley Town Hall designed to raise awareness of the NHS’s national cervical screening programme which encourages women to improve their health outcomes by attending their three-yearly smear tests.
Suzanne added: “It’s great to be working in collaboration with other agencies to improve the health outcomes of the women of Bradford.”
Bradford Teaching Hospitals, Bradford Council, Public Health England and Bradford NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are currently working on joint projects to increase cervical screening uptake across the district.
For more information on cervical cancer, visit www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-cervix/Pages/Introduction.aspx or Jo’s Trust at http://www.jostrust.org.uk/
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week takes place between 24-30 January 2016.