What Women Need To Know About Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer can occur at any age so it is important to know how to protect yourself, and address what you can do to ensure early diagnosis.
A survey published by The Eve Appeal gynaecological cancer research charity indicated that awareness levels of cervical cancer amongst nearly 1400 women of 16 and over were also worrying low.
Each year in the UK 2,800 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed – more than half of these are in women under the age of 50. It is the second most common cancer in women under 35 however is very rare in women under 25.
Cervical cancer has attracted much media coverage in recent years, largely because of Jade Goody’s sad death from the disease, and yet it is estimated that 20% of women in the UK fail to attend cervical screening when invited.
Your three stage prevention plan.
This cancer almost uniquely can be prevented by screening and HPV vaccination so awareness is crucial for women at risk.
Stage 1 – HPV Vaccination
If you are under 18, get vaccinated. The HPV vaccination is the best way to help protect yourself against developing cervical cancer. In more than 70% of cervical cancer cases, the cause is infection with one of two strains of HPV (human papilloma virus) which can be prevented by immunisation.
Stage 2 – Cervical Screening
Because the HPV vaccine does not protect against all cervical cancers, it is still vitally important for all women to have cervical screening – more commonly known as a smear test – later in life. Cervical screening in England is offered offered from the age of 25 and finishes at 64.
The key early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer are:
– Any unusual bleeding from the vagina particularly after sex
– After the menopause when your periods have stopped
– Persistent vaginal discharge that is blood stained or smells unpleasant
Stage 3 – Know the facts
Know the signs and symptoms and if you experience any, tell your doctor. The earlier cervical cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome will be, so even if women have been vaccinated and had regular screening, none of these is 100% effective so women owe it to themselves to be aware of the early warning signs.
The Eve Appeal has been working to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer and has published a series of information materials called ‘What women need to know… about cervical cancer’ including a leaflet; postcard and DVD of women talking about cervical cancer screening, vaccination and signs and symptoms.
If you know anyone who would benefit from this information they can get copies at firstname.lastname@example.org
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