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Cervical Cancer Screening Awareness Week

Dr Andrew Wilson

Dr Andrew Wilson, clinical chair of NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group

Coronavirus has changed lots of things. Cervical Screening Awareness Week isn’t one of them! It will take place between the 15th-21st June.

If you are due cervical screening or have had a test cancelled, you might be wondering what is going on. Whether it’s your first or your last test, it’s helpful for you to understand changes to cervical screening as a result of coronavirus, including what to expect if you go.

Cervical cancer forms in the cells that line the cervix and even though you may not have any symptoms in the early stages it is crucial that you go and get a cervical cancer screening test (smear test) when invited to do so..

Almost all (99.7%) of cervical cancers are caused by an infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It’s incredibly common with four out of five sexually active adults having HPV at some point in their lives and it’s passed by skin-to-skin contact.

Cervical cancer risk factors include:

  • Not attending cervical screening test
  • Early exposure to the virus from being sexually active from a younger age, having children at a younger age or giving birth to many children
  • Making your body more vulnerable to infections, for example by smoking.

However there are ways to reduce your risk, these include:

  • Practise safe sex by wearing a condom or encouraging your partner to do so
  • Not smoking
  • Exercising three or four times a week until you’re slightly out of breath
  • Eating five portions of fruit or vegetables a day
  • Sticking to the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines on low-risk drinking
  • Attending the cervical screening test when invited to do so
  • Asking your GP practice about the HPV vaccination

Visit https://www.jostrust.org.uk/for some real-life stories and other videos which may help you during lockdown. There is also a helpline number: 0808 802 8000 for urgent queries.