January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
One in 142 women or people with a cervix will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in their lifetime, but with almost all (98.8%) cases preventable, you can reduce your risk in a number of ways.
Women and people with a cervix are being encouraged to take three easy steps to significantly reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer, as part of Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance’s #PreventCervicalCancer campaign.
Step one: Attend your cervical screening appointment
All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 are invited by letter to cervical screening (a smear test) to check the health of their cervix. Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, it is a test to help prevent cancer.
The cervical screening appointment takes around 10 minutes to complete, and it could save your life.
Hear from Dr Sam Plummer, one of the GPs from Priory Medical Group, as she explains why cervical screening is an important step to take to #PreventCervicalCancer.
Meg Long, a 28 year-old mum of twins from Hull, initially had reservations about her cervical screening appointment.
However, the experience was much smoother than she anticipated – and now she is urging others to book their appointments when they receive an invite.
If you are worried about cervical screening, watch this video to hear about Meg’s experience.
What is HPV?
During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix. The sample will then be tested for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). If these types of cells are found, they can be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
All children aged 12 to 13 are offered the HPV vaccine, which helps to protect against all cancers caused by HPV.
Step two: Be clued up about cervical cancer
It is important to know what is normal for you, so you can spot signs of cervical cancer in the earliest stages. The main symptoms of cervical cancer to be aware of are:
- vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you – including bleeding during or after sex, between your periods or after the menopause, or having heavier periods than usual
- pain during sex
- changes to your vaginal discharge
- pain in your lower back, between your hip bones, or in your lower tummy
These symptoms are very common and can be caused by many different conditions, but it is important to get them checked by a GP. If it is cervical cancer, finding it as early as possible means it can be easier to treat.
Bitesize awareness sessions
The Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance Cancer Champions programme is hosting bite-sized cervical cancer awareness sessions throughout January. These free 30-minute virtual sessions give attendees the important information about cervical cancer prevention in an interactive and understandable format. The below upcoming sessions are available:
– Monday 15th January at 3:30pm
– Wednesday 17th January at 1:00pm
– Monday 22nd January at 2:30pm
– Tuesday 23rd January at 10:00am
– Wednesday 24th January at 7:00pm
– Thursday 25th January at 12:30pm
– Friday 26th January at 11:00am
– Tuesday 30th January at 1:00pm
– Thursday 1st February at 11:30am
Book your place on a training session here.
After Syeda completed the Cancer Champions training, it empowered her with the confidence to book her cervical screening appointment – something that she had previously avoided when invited.
The terminology used in previous conversations with her GP meant that she did not fully understand the cervical screening procedure.
However after Syeda attended the training session, the process was explained clearly – and she was able to ask any questions that she had.
Read Syeda’s story to find out more about why she recommends that other people complete the free Cancer Champions training.
Step three: Spread the word about cervical cancer
Throughout January, Cancer Alliance colleagues and partners will be out in the community to spread awareness about cervical cancer symptoms and preventative measures.
We will be visiting supermarkets, leisure centres and other community spaces to have conversations with members of the public about cervical cancer, giving away leaflets, information cards and lots more in the process.
The Cancer Alliance will be spreading the word about cervical cancer across many channels throughout January using the hashtag #PreventCervicalCancer.
You can show your support for the campaign by sharing the Cancer Alliance’s posts on your social media channels.
Let’s talk cervical screening
Let’s talk cervical cancer screening is a campaign that aims to educate women and people with a cervix about HPV and cervical screening as well as help alleviate any concerns when it comes to booking and attending an appointment.
People can find top tips and advice about how they can prepare for a cervical screening, to make the process as comfortable as possible. There is also a video available of people talking about their experiences with cervical screening which can help if you are feeling worried.
Jo’s cervical cancer trust
Jo’s cervical cancer trust are working towards making cervical cancer a thing of the past. The charity is focusing on raising awareness about cervical cancer prevention and offers free resources that you can use with friends and family or in the workplace.
If you have any concerns relating to cervical cancer screening or the HPV vaccine, visit Jo’s website to get the support you need. There is the option to get in touch via an online forum, a helpline, or via email. Jo’s also offer a 1:1 cervical cancer support service and have many support events available for you to attend.
YorSexual Health is a service that offers free and confidential services across North Yorkshire and York.
Throughout January, YorSexual Health is running a cervical screening clinic for anyone with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64. If you are over-due to have a cervical screening, or you have received your letter inviting you to book an appointment, visit the walk-in clinic. Report at the main reception desk on the day, no booking is required.
The clinic is being held on the below dates:
- Thursday 25th January, 4pm -7pm – at Selby New War Memorial Hospital in the outpatient’s department
- Saturday 27th January, 9am – 12pm at Monkgate Health Centre in York