Medical Negligence

Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2021 Begins

Estimated read time: 3 mins

Carrie Tennick, June 14, 2021

This week (14 – 20 June 2021) sees Cervical Screening Awareness Week marked across the UK. The campaign aims to highlight the importance of screening as the main way of preventing cervical cancer.

The awareness week is focusing on reducing the confusion around human papillomavirus (HPV) this year. HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer as it can lead to cell changes, which go on to become cancerous.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, organisers of the campaign, have said they want to help “de-mystify cervical screening results”. They want to do this by sharing information and making sure everyone knows where they can find support around cervical screening.

The charity is urging people to post about cervical screening and HPV on their social networks to start discussions. It is also encouraging people to take part in activities to raise awareness of HPV and cervical cell changes.

What is cervical screening?

Cervical screening is when a sample of cells from your cervix is taken and sent for analysis. The test itself takes a few minutes and you’ll usually get your results by post within four weeks – but this may be delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s done at your GP surgery or, sometimes, at a sexual health clinic. At the moment, your surgery or clinic will have safety measures in place. These include the use of extra PPE, face coverings being required and social distancing.

The test looks for HPV and changes to the cells. Although abnormal cells don’t necessarily mean you have cancer, it’s a sign that they could eventually develop into the disease. This makes it vital to find these cells early.

Cervical screening results

Your results could come back with no high-risk HPV found. In this case, you’ll be invited for another screen in three years if you’re between 25 and 49, or five years if you’re 50 to 64. If HPV is found but there have been no cell changes, you’ll be invited for another screen in one year.

If your results show that HPV and cell changes were found, you’ll be invited to colposcopy. This is another kind of examination, carried out by a different healthcare professional. It involves taking a closer look at your cervix.

Colposcopy will help to diagnose your cell changes and treat them, if necessary. According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, many cell changes go away on their own. But there is a risk that those that don’t will develop into cancer.

Cervical cancer in the UK

Around 3,200 UK women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, according to Cancer Research UK (CRUK). The organisation has also explained that younger women are more likely to get the disease than older women. More than half of the cases every year are in women under 45.

Because cervical cancer has no early symptoms, screening is the best way of finding it, as well as preventing it from developing.

CRUK advises that, even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine as a girl, you should still get screened. This is because the vaccine doesn’t protect against all types of HPV.

Raising awareness of the importance of cervical screening is hugely important to encouraging more people to book their appointments. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has posters, films and graphics to download to share online this Cervical Screening Awareness Week.

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