This week marks Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW), a UK-wide initiative lead by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to highlight the importance of cervical screening in the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer.
According to statistics from Cancer Research UK, around 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year resulting in over 900 deaths. It is now the most common cancer in women under the age of 35.
Cervical cancer is a preventable disease and preventative methods like cervical screening along with early detection are key to managing incidence and mortality rates.
Recent recommendations made by the UK NSC for standard cervical screening state that all women over the age of 25 should be regularly screened to detect any irregular or pre-cancerous cells in their cervix. It is recommended that women who are between 25 and 49 years should be screened every three years, and women between 50 and 64 screened every five years.
However, NHS statistics show that 20% of UK women are still not taking up their cervical screening invitations with their local GP.
Dr Tony Falconer, President of the RCOG said:
“Regular cervical screening is vital among women aged 25 and over as cervical cancer is easily preventable but often has no symptoms in its early stages so early detection is vital in helping doctors identify any irregularities that may develop into cancer.
“Preventative medicine needs to be the main focus rather than intervention which can sometimes be too late. The introduction of the national HPV vaccination programme for young girls is also an excellent step towards this.
“Not being screened regularly is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer along with population-based measures which impact on the overall burden of the disease, including smoking, obesity and inadequate sexual healthcare.
“The NHS Cancer Screening programme has led to a significant reduction in the rate of cervical cancer and women need to ensure that arrangements for regular periodic appointments are made.
“The RCOG encourages all women to attend cervical screening when invited and to contact their GP if they think they are overdue for a screening appointment.”
For more information on cervical cancer visit NHS Choices and for more information on Cervical Screening Awareness Week or how to get involved visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust