Women across the Western Isles are reminded that cervical screening saves livcommunityes.

NHS Western Isles have issued a reminder coinciding with Cervical Cancer Awareness Week (20th January – 26th January 2020) that the smear test saves around 5,000 lives each year in the UK.

Six women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every week in Scotland and the NHS have said it is important to attend your cervical screening appointment when invited.

Cervical cancer may not have symptoms in its early stages, but it can be prevented through regular cervical screening (smear test) which detects any early changes to the cells of the cervix. The earlier cervical cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and you’re nine times more likely to survive cervical cancer when it’s found at an early stage, compared to a late stage.
 
The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites all women from the age of 25 to 64 to attend cervical screening. Women who are 25 to 49 years of age are offered screening every three years, and those aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every five years.
 
From 30 March 2020, cervical cytology (looking at cells under a microscope) will be replaced by human papillomavirus (HPV) testing as the primary (first) screening test in the Scottish cervical screening programme. This will be carried out using the same samples of cells taken during cervical screening so the cervical screening experience for women will remain unchanged.  Further information is available at here.
 
Sometimes there are no symptoms with early stage cervical cancer. However, if you notice any of the following, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible:
 
·       Abnormal bleeding: during or after sexual intercourse, or between periods
·       Post-menopausal bleeding, if you are not on HRT or have stopped it for six weeks
·       Unusual and/or unpleasant vaginal discharge
·       Discomfort or pain during sex
·       Lower back pain.

There are many other conditions that could cause these symptoms so while it’s probably nothing to worry about, you should see your GP. Whatever it is, the earlier it’s found the easier it will be to treat.

If you are worried or late attending a cervical screening appointment or if it is your first time, find out more about cervical screening here:  www.jostrust.org.uk/about-cervical-cancer/cervical-screening 
Cervical screening saves lives, contact your GP practice to make an appointment.