Solihull Council is supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week to raise awareness of how women can reduce their risk of cervical cancer.
The annual campaign led by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust runs from 22 to 28 January and encourages women to attend regular cervical screening, be symptom aware and, if eligible, take up the opportunity to have the HPV vaccine.
Cervical cancer is largely preventable thanks to the UK’s national cervical screening and HPV vaccination programmes; however two women lose their lives to the disease every day. Uptake of cervical screening is falling across the UK with more than one in four UK women not attending, rising to one in three among 25-29 year olds.
The cervical screening programme, which used to be known as smear tests, aims to check women aged 25 to 49 for pre-cancerous cells every three years. This rises to every 5 years for women aged 50 to 64.
Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, which is why it is so important to attend screening appointments. However, some signs to look out for include:
- Vaginal bleeding, during or after sex
- Pain during sex
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Post-menopausal bleeding
- Lower back pain
Cervical cancer is caused by the sexually transmitted infection human papillomavirus (HPV) and does not show symptoms so carriers do not know they have it. There are around 13 high-risk types of HPV that are responsible for almost all cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine is offered to girls aged 12-18 in the UK and is estimated to save up to 400 lives a year.
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Karen Grinsell said: “Regular cervical screening can help to prevent cancer so I can’t stress enough how important it is that women attend their screening tests. I know it can be uncomfortable, but it only takes a minute and can save your life.
“I understand that some women may worry about having a test, but please don’t just ignore your invitation. Talk through any concerns you have with your doctor.”
Women are encouraged to speak to their doctor if they would like more information about a vaccine or screening test.
Further information can also be found at: solihull.mylifeportal.co.uk/cervicalscreening