Preventing Cervical Cancer – Infographic
15 March 2021 by - Dr Demetri Panayi
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that arises from the cervix, which is the area that connects the lower part of the uterus (womb) with the vagina.
Cervical cancer can arise when abnormal cervical cells grow in an uncontrolled way. It can affect a person of any age, but it primarily affects those between 30-45 years of age.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that 8 in 10 people will get within their lifetime. It is passed on via sexual contact and lives within the skin. In most cases, it will go away without causing any issues, but around 13 types of HPV are linked to cancer. To read more about HPV and cervical cancer, visit Jo’s Trust.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Although cervical cancer will not always cause symptoms, or the symptoms may not be easily noticeable, there are several common symptoms, including:
- Unscheduled bleeding (during or after sex, or between periods)
- Post-menopausal bleeding
- Unusual discharge
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Lower back or pelvic pain
It is important to note that these symptoms are more often related to other problems that are not cervical cancer. However, if you notice any of the above symptoms, you should visit your GP right away to receive the right support.
Cervical screenings save lives!
Although there are more than 3,000 cases of cervical cancer in the UK per year, 99.8% of cases are preventable. Attending your scheduled cervical screenings is the most effective way to help prevent cervical cancer.
Cervical screenings are free health tests that are available for all women in the UK aged 25-64. You will be invited by the NHS to attend your cervical screening when you turn 25 and at regular intervals afterwards, depending on your age and the results of your last test.
Cervical screenings do not check for cervical cancer but are instead used to check the health of your cervix and identify cell changes.
The results of your cervical screening will arrive by post in around two weeks. Around 1 in 20 cervical screens come back abnormal, however, this does not mean you have cervical cancer. An abnormal cervical screening result means changes to the cervical cells, which could potentially cause cancer in the future.
Regular cervical screenings allow you to get the care or treatment you need early on, so it is important to attend your cervical screening when you are invited to do so. Around 1 in 4 women in the UK currently do not attend their cervical screening.
Moreover, visiting to your GP or gynaecologist at the earliest sign of any symptoms is also vital in detecting cervical changes early and preventing cervical cancer.