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Spotting cancer early saves lives

Cervical cancer awareness month

12 June 2017 Information | Cervical cancer

This week (12-18 June) is cervical cancer awareness week and the 'small c' campaign is urging all eligible women in our region (north central and east London and west Essex) to take up their invitation to cervical screening.

Each year there are 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK, that’s around nine women diagnosed every day. Around two out of every 100 cancers diagnosed in women are cervical cancer and more than half of cases are women under the age of 45.

Cervical cancer affects the lower part of the womb, also called the neck of the womb. The main cause of cervical cancer is the human papilloma virus (HPV) – a common virus which in most cases is cleared by your immune system without any problems.

Cervical screening (also known as a smear test) is open to women aged 25 to 64, and is a very effective way of preventing cancer by finding abnormal cell changes in the neck of the womb (cervix). These changes could lead to cancer if left untreated. They are usually easily treated in clinic which avoids cancer developing.

Research shows that cervical screening prevents at least 2,000 cervical cancer deaths each year in the UK. Since cervical screening started in the 1980s in Great Britain, rates of cervical cancer have almost halved.

Yet many women do not attend their smear test (cervical screening). Of the 1.03 million women eligible for screening in our region (north central and east London), only 201,300 took up the opportunity last year – one in five women.

Dr Alexandra Lawrence, consultant gynaecological oncologist, said:

“Cervical cancer is very treatable if detected early and it is clear that the cervical screening programme has saved thousands of lives in recent years. Yet many women do not take up the opportunity of this simple screening test for a variety of reasons. These could include being worried about the test itself, not being registered with a GP or not being aware of the importance of cervical screening.

“Let’s make this cervical cancer awareness week the time when we encourage all eligible women to take up their invitation to cervical screening.

“It’s also important that women experiencing any abnormal symptoms, such as unusual bleeding or pain, go and see their GP as soon as possible even if you are not due for cervical screening.”

To have a screening test, women can either book at their GP surgery or at their local sexual health clinic.

For more information about cervical cancer screening, visit:

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