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Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2022 is here. Running from the 20th-26th of June, the week promotes cervical cancer awareness and prevention.
Unlike many cancers, it is possible to detect the early stages of cervical cancer with a screening. Screenings save thousands of lives every year in the UK, and their importance is not to be underestimated.
If you haven’t yet attended a screening or you’ve received a letter inviting you to book an appointment, let this article serve as a reminder to book yours today. You can find out more about the screening process and how it helps prevent cervical cancer below. We’ve also offered some tips you might find helpful if you’re feeling nervous about your screening.
During a cervical screening (or smear test), a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix to test for HPV. The test usually takes less than 5 minutes, making the appointment around 10 minutes altogether. The screening is usually carried out by a female nurse or doctor.
Before starting, they should explain what will happen during the test and answer any questions you have. The process goes like this:
The cervical screening will test for different types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Certain types of HPV can cause abnormal cell changes in your cervix. If these cells don't ult to hear the news thear the news that abnormal cells have been found, but it’s important to remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean the cells will develop into cervical cancer. These cells can often go back to normal by themselves. But for some women, these cells could develop into cancer in the future if they aren’t treated.
If you find out you need to go for an examination or treatment, this can also be tough news to receive. Try to remember to be patient with yourself during this time. It’s natural to feel confused or worried about the treatment. These feelings will likely ease over time, but if you’re having continued difficulties, your GP can help.
Cervical screening invitations are sent to those registered as women with their GP six months before their 25th birthday. Screening invitations will then be sent every three years up to age 49. People aged 50 to 64 will receive invitations every 5 years.
Trans men (assigned female at birth) who have a cervix and are registered as male with their GP will not receive automatic invitations but are still entitled to screenings. More information on cervical screenings for trans men can be found on the NHS website.
It’s natural to feel nervous about your screening. But don’t let that discourage you from putting it off or avoiding the appointment altogether. The screening process is ultimately a safe way to prevent cervical cancer from developing.
And although it might feel uncomfortable for a few seconds – it’s worth it in the long run. If you’re feeling nervous about your screening, these tips can help:
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