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RCOG statement: Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2015

News 15 June 2015

This week (15-21 June 2015) is Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW), a UK-wide initiative led by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. It aims to highlight the importance of cervical screening (smear test) in preventing cervical cancer. 

Every day in the UK, eight women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three will lose their lives to the disease. Yet cervical cancer is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.

Raising awareness of cervical cancer screening is a priority because 22% of women still do not attend their appointment. Cervical cancer can affect women of all ages yet a recent study by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has found that a lack of knowledge about the cause of cervical cancer and about who can be affected seems to be contributing to older women (50-56) not attending a screening clinic.

Many of the women surveyed did not fully understand the relationship between sexual activity and cervical cancer: 38% were unaware that being with the same long term partner (for five years) did not protect against cervical cancer, not realising that the HPV virus, which is the main cause of cervical cancer, can lie dormant for many years.

Dr Clare McKenzie, Vice President for Education at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said,

“Raising public awareness of cervical screening is vital. Early detection increases survival rates as it can detect pre-cancer abnormalities, which, if left untreated, may develop into cancer. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity and inadequate sexual healthcare.

“Screening is for women without symptoms. If women do not do attend screening clinics then their risk of developing cervical cancer increases dramatically by the time they are 65.

“If you are worried about having the smear test, or worried about any symptoms, you should talk to your GP or practice nurse.

“HPV vaccination protects against the virus that causes most cases cervical cancer and the RCOG strongly encourages parents, and girls who are of age, to take up the offer. However, the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV, nor other causes of cervical cancer, so women still need to attend their screening sessions.”

Ends

For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s digital campaign #smearforsmear encourages women to attend cervical screening. For further information on how to get involved visit: jostrust.org/smearforsmear

For more information on cervical cancer visit NHS Choices and more information on cervical screening can be found on the Public Health England website.

To find out more about Cervical Cancer Screening AwarenessWeek or how to get involved visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.