Monday 15 June to Sunday 21 June is Cervical Screening Awareness Week and although NHS cervical screening services have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, colleagues across the Humber Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance (HCV CA) are working hard to ensure services are restored in a consistent and safe way.
Women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 49 are invited for a cervical screening every 3 years and those aged between 50-64 are invited every 5 years. During the appointment, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and cervical screening looks for the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause abnormal cells on the cervix. It is not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, some NHS cervical screening invitations or appointments were rescheduled to a later date due to operational reasons and to minimise risk to patients. However, plans are being developed to ensure NHS Cervical Screening Programme services can operate fully as soon as is safe to do so. Screening invitations are already being sent out, the first going to higher-risk individuals or anyone who has had an appointment delayed due to the pandemic.
Dan Cottingham, Primary Care GP Lead at HCV CA said:
”“As cervical cancer develops slowly in the majority of cases, delaying a routine test for a short time is highly unlikely to affect most individual health outcomes. However, if you are having symptoms such as:
• bleeding between periods, during or after sex, or after the menopause
• changes to vaginal discharge
“It is important to get clinical advice. It does not mean you have cervical cancer. Please call your GP, even if you have had a normal cervical screening test. Don’t wait until you have your next cervical screen.”