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Cervical Cancer Screening Week begins

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Carrie Tennick, June 10, 2019

Cervical Cancer Screening Week kicks off today (10 June). Intended to encourage women to get screened for the disease, the campaign is highlighting the importance of getting tested.

According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, two women lose their lives to cervical cancer every day, while nine women are diagnosed with the disease every day. But the Trust also found that 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by screening.

What causes cervical cancer?

According to the NHS, “almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)”. HPV is a group of viruses, rather than a single virus, with more than 100 different types in existence.

Some types of HPV do not cause any noticeable symptoms and the infection will pass without treatment. But at least 15 types of HPV are considered high-risk for cervical cancer. The two highest risk are HPV 16 and HPV 18 and these are responsible for the majority of cervical cancers.

The NHS explained that these types of high-risk HPV infections are thought to stop the cells working normally, causing them to reproduce uncontrollably, which then leads to the growth of a cancerous tumour.

Cervical cancer development

Cervical cancer typically takes a number of years to develop. Before this, cervical cells often show changes. Known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) or cervical glandular intraepithelial neoplasia (CGIN) depending on which cells are affected, these abnormalities are pre-cancerous conditions.

They are not an immediate threat to health, but they can develop into cancer if left unchecked and untreated. However, the chances of CIN or CGIN turning into cervical cancer are “very small”, according to the NHS.

When the changes are found during cervical screening, treatment is typically very effective, resulting in a high level of success.

Cervical cancer treatment

Research carried out by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found that around 220,000 UK women are diagnosed with cell changes every year. The treatment given to prevent the development of cervical cancer has around a 90% success rate.

However, the charity also found that women aren’t being given enough information about the possible side effects of treatment. One in five (20%) of the 1,622 women surveyed said potential impacts of treatment were not explained to them.

The researchers discovered that there was variation in the number aware of specific side effects. While 86% experienced bleeding or spotting for up to six weeks, one in seven (15%) were unaware of this common side effect.

Meanwhile, 71% experienced anxiety and 24% depression as a result of treatment, but just 6% of women surveyed were made aware they may experience anxiety. As Cervical Cancer Screening Week begins, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is warning that being unprepared may leave many women unable to cope with the impact and not equipped to access support.

Regular screening and smear tests play a crucial role in preventing and treating cervical cancer. But so does an early and accurate diagnosis. If you’ve suffered from misdiagnosed cervical cancer or had a delayed diagnosis, First4Lawyers could help you make a claim for compensation.

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