Cervical screening – don’t ignore it

10 June 2019

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme was established in 1988 and has saved an estimated 5,000 lives a year.

However, take up for screening is, according to Public Health England, at a 20-year low with NHS figures showing that in 2018 only 71% of women aged 25 to 64 were adequately tested.

Charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is again raising awareness of the importance of screening (smear tests), highlighting it as the best protection against cervical cancer. The test can detect cell changes which, if untreated, could go on to develop into cancer. 

Cervical Screening Awareness Week will run from June 10 to 16 to highlight the risks of cervical cancer and the preventative benefits of the often misunderstood screening test.

It will also encourage women of all ages to respond to their screening invitation and encourage them to consider booking an appointment if they have missed previous tests.

At Spire Parkway Hospital Solihull, Consultant Gynaecologist Mr Mohan Kumar said: “The single biggest risk factor for developing cervical cancer is not being regularly screened. It is a preventable disease. The signs that it may develop can be often be spotted early and it can be treated before it even fully starts.

“Nearly one-and-a-half-million women a year are missing out on their screening and when you consider that around 750 women each year die from cervical cancer in the UK, it’s important that women understand just how life saving this simple test is.”

Every 3 years, women between the ages of 25 to 49 are invited to attend cervical screening, or smear tests; those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years. The screening can detect abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in the cervix, which can then be treated in order to prevent cervical cancer developing.                                                                        

Mr Kumar said: “It is important to get the message across that cervical screening is not a test for cancer, but instead allows for detection of abnormalities at an early stage.

“Attending a cervical screening appointment should be an important part of every woman’s health regime but for many women this message just isn’t getting through.  Early detection is key to increasing survival rates, so increasing awareness of the test and educating everyone about the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it is crucial in the overall fight against cancer.”

Q: How quickly could I have a consultation, and how much would it cost? 

A: It depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted to see, but we pride ourselves on getting you fast access to diagnosis and you can often get a consultation within 24/48 hours. Initial consultation fees vary by consultant, but around £175 is a reasonable guide.

Q: If I need surgery, how quickly could I have it?

A: We have no waiting lists at Spire Parkway, but again, it depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted, but as a guide, and subject to your pre-operation assessment, between one and two weeks. 

Q: I don’t have health insurance, can I self-pay? 

A: Yes, you can. Our self-pay team can talk you through this and explain the finance options that are available, should you wish to explore them. Call 0121 704 5530 or send an enquiry.

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