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What every woman needs to know about cervical cancer

Published: 21 Jan 2019

This month marks the UK’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, on 21st – 27th January. In 2019, around 13,000 women in the US and 3,000 women in the UK will be diagnosed with cervical cancer.  It accounts for 6.6% of all female cancers.

Unfortunately, for many of these women, their diagnosis will come weeks or even months after they started experiencing symptoms. One of the reasons for this is that some women do not visit their doctor soon enough - often because they are embarrassed about having a pap smear test. 

Another reason for later than necessary diagnosis is lack of knowledge; symptoms are dismissed as a minor ailment. However, this can be extremely costly in terms of diagnosing and treating the disease quickly and effectively.

It’s really important that we as women raise awareness of cervical cancer, to encourage rapid treatment. To increase knowledge of this disease, here are three things you should take note of this Cervical Cancer Prevention Week:

You are never to young to get cervical cancer

Some cancers are associated with ageing. Not cervical cancer. There are factors that can increase the likelihood of contracting the disease – being sexually active from an early age, having three or more children, and smoking, for example – but it can affect women in their 20s right up to their 80s. This is why it’s vital to visit your gynaecologist regularly.

Early symptoms may be minor – non-existent

One of the reasons it’s so important to keep your pap smear appointment is that cervical cancer can be difficult to detect in the early stages. Symptoms such as urinating more often, bleeding between periods, and pelvic pain can be dismissed as part of a minor ailment, when they should be taken more seriously.

Regular cervical screening can pick up abnormalities very early on, to ensure the disease is treated and hopefully cured, before it becomes more severe.

Treatment is extremely effective

Many women who record an abnormal pap smear test result will not have anything to worry about; often cells just need monitoring and will return to normal in due course

However, for those that are diagnosed with cervical cancer, treatment is accessible and has a good success rate. On average, 3 in 5 women that contract cervical cancer will make a full recovery, which rises to 4 in 5 when you look at women under the age of 50.

As with any cancer, early detection increases the chance of successful recovery, so make sure you visit your doctor as soon as possible if you’re worried that you may have symptoms of cervical cancer.

 

To play your part in Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, share this article with your girlfriends.