Cervical Screening Awareness Week

Consultant gynaecologist Mr Raj Saha, from Spire Parkway Hospital, Solihull, has worked for 25 years as a gynaecologist. As a specialist in cancer treatment, he advises women to always attend their cervical screening appointment. If you have any concerns, he advises that you always speak to your GP who can refer you to a gynaecologist for expert advice, guidance and treatment where necessary. 

Mr Saha says: “Statistics show that only 78% of women attend their cervical screening appointment; that’s one in five that don’t attend . This figure still shocks me because, as a specialist in gynaecological cancer, I still see patients who have missed cervical screening appointments. By missing a screening you are putting yourself at risk. Amongst all the risk factors of cervical cancer, the biggest risk factor is nonattendance. 

“My advice is to attend your screening. If you have any concerns in between screening appointments or any unusual symptoms - such as irregular bleeding between periods, after sex or unpleasant discharge - see your GP. Your GP can refer you to a gynaecologist who can explore the problem further and look for the best course of treatment for you. It is better to get yourself checked out and find it’s nothing to worry about than leave it too late.”

Mr Raj Saha, consultant gynaecologist at Spire Parkway Hospital, Solihull, is an expert medical advisor to Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, assisting with enquiries from women relating to cervical cancer www.jostrust.org.uk

For appointments please call 0121 704 5530 or 07762 601 662.

Mr Saha’s cervical screening overview: What you need to know

Cervical screening: the basics

The cervical screening (smear) test looks for pre-cancerous cells and takes a sample of cells from the cervix, which are then examined for pre-cancerous (abnormal) cells that could develop into cancer in the future.

What causes cervical cancer?

Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). This is a common virus transmitted through any type of sexual contact. There are many types of HPV, only some can cause abnormal cells, which could lead to cancer. These infections are relatively common; for many women they do not develop into cervical cancer.

How often will I have a screening?

Between the ages of 25–64 you will receive a regular NHS screening appointment.

Age 25–49 years: Standard screening is offered every three years

Age 50–64 years: Screenings are offered every five years 

Age 65+: Only those who haven’t been screened since they were 50, or if you’ve had a recent abnormal test result, are offered screenings

Cervical screening is not 100% accurate; you also need to speak to your GP or gynaecologist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Irregular bleeding between periods
  • Recurrent bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Unpleasant smelling discharge

I’m not 25 yet - can I still have a cervical screening test?

It is not common for women below 25 years old to have a cervical screening test. However if you are experiencing unusual symptoms (irregular bleeding or unpleasant discharge), seek medical advice. Your GP can refer you to a gynaecologist who will look at options for diagnosis, which could include a colposcopy camera to check for any abnormalities.

I’ve had the HPV vaccine, do I still need screening?

Yes. The vaccine, currently only offered to teenage girls aged 12-18 years, protects against two high risk types of HPV that cause 70% of all cervical cancers. It is important to attend future screenings as usual.  

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.

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