50% of cervical cancer deaths are avoidable. Cervical cancer screening in the UK saw a surge in attendance back in 2009, sparked by the death of reality-TV star Jade Goody from the disease. Since then, the number of women turning up to their NHS screening appointments has been falling. Now only 70% and 73% of all eligible women attend.
Cervical cancer screening is important for every women. Early detection can reduce almost half the mortality rate.
- Reasons women don’t attend screenings
- Cervical cancer screening from home
Reasons women don’t attend screenings:
- No spare time, due to family or job obligations
- Feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable with the procedure
- Fear of possible pain
- Believe they can tell if something is wrong
- Feeling healthy
- Unsure of screening importance
- Worry about what the test might find
Almost half of cervical cancer deaths could be avoided with early screening
If all women aged between 25 and 64 who were invited for screening attended, 347 deaths could have been avoided. Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that can affect young women (in their twenties and thirties) as well as older women. The sexually transmitted infection HPV is one of the biggest risk factors in getting cervical cancer. This means that nobody who is sexually active is too young to begin screening.
Dr Armstrong claims “it is younger women, aged between 25 and 29 years, who are the worst at attending. About one third don’t go for their checkup.”
Cervical cancer screening from home
Research shows that 35−40% of women not participating in screening programs would perform a self-sample at home if offered the alternative.
LetsGetChecked offer a home HPV test, which allows women to check for high risk strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) from the privacy of home with results that are the same standard as any medical clinic. Testing from home is convenient and confidential, giving you end-to-end control.
Testing yourself for high risk strains of HPV is necessary in detecting potential signs of cervical cancer. It is especially important for women who do not attend the national screening programme. Especially given that about 25% of all cervical cancer affects women whose latest PAP smear was normal. Ideally, women should have both regular smear test and regular HPV tests.
It is important to note that most women with HPV do not develop cervical cancer, and this infection often clears up on its own. But uncovering high risk strains is an indication to visit your doctor for further testing.
A home HPV test is also useful for women above or below the eligible age for the national screening programme, and for women that want to check themselves between appointments, since screenings are usually three to five years apart. More than anything, HPV testing from home offers women peace of mind.
Find out if you are at risk for cervical cancer
Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley