Sam and Dr Bella Smith (aka The Digital GP) are taking on the exciting challenge of running a half marathon on the 4 March to help raise awareness and funds for the amazing Eve Appeal! The Eve Appeal is a fantastic UK Charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers - ovarian, womb, cervical, vulval and vaginal. Yes, there are five.
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Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2018 has just passed and we spoke to Dr Bella about how we can work towards encouraging all women to attend their smear tests.
Here are Dr Bella's and the Eve Appeals top 6 reasons why it is so important not to miss your smear test.
1) A smear test may save your life. Cervical Cancer kills around 1000 young women every year in the UK but since smear tests were introduced the incidence of cervical cancer has decreased by 44%. Smear tests save around 4000 lives per year in the UK from Cervical Cancer
2) Early Cervical Cancer may be ‘silent’. There are often no symptoms when Cervical Cancer is in the early stages so you may not know you have cancer until it has spread. If you have a smear test it could detect your early Cervical Cancer before it progresses and would improve your prognosis and chances of survival.
3) A Smear test can also predict if you are going to develop Cervical Cancer in the future. It does this by detecting a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection in the vagina, if you are found to have the ‘aggressive form of HPV infection’ then you will be monitored more closely and treated if necessary.
4) Smear tests are free. You can book to have your smear test at your GP surgery. You will be sent a letter when your smear test is due, this will be every 3 years if you are between 25-49 or every 5 years if you from 50-64 years old.
5) They don’t hurt. A smear test can be a little uncomfortable but there shouldn’t be any pain. There is no cutting, no injections, no stitches. A plastic speculum is inserted into your vagina and a small brush is gently rotated within your cervix to collect the cells. The procedure only lasts a few minutes.
6) Less young women are attending their smear tests. Recent data shows that there has been a marked reduction in 25-29 year olds attending their smear test possibly due to embarrassment. , Please don’t let embarrassment stop you, the doctor or nurse who does your smear will be highly trained in this procedure and it could potentially save your life. Check that female members in your family are attending their smear tests or they may be vulnerable to developing cervical cancer.
Please attend your routine smear at your GP surgery and spread the word amongst your friends and family. Raising awareness could prevent young women from developing this disease. If you notice any change to your periods, for example bleeding or pain with sex, or bleeding between your periods, then please see your GP for a review.'