A guide to cervical cancer
15% of school children are not protected against the human papillomavirus HPV virus which is linked to 99% of cervical cancer cases.
25% of females aged 25 – 62 did not attend their cervical screening appointment
What is cervical cancer?
Women (or those assigned female at birth) are born with a cervix. The cervix is part of the female reproductive system and forms a canal between the vagina and womb. Cervical cancer is caused by cell changes in this area.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
Include painful sex, unusual vaginal bleeding, changes to discharge and pain in the pelvis or lower back. Smoking, having sex at a young age, having multiple sexual partners and a weakened immune system are all additional risk factors.
How is HPV linked to cervical cancer?
Over 99% of cervical cancer cases are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is very common and transferred via skin-to-skin-contact and during sex. High-risk strains (e.g. HPV 16 and 18) can lead to cervical cancer.
Can I prevent cervical cancer?
YES! By: 1. Attending regular cervical screening appointments (from 25 years of age) 2. Completing a full HPV vaccination
course at school (2 doses are usually given to Year 8 and 9 students). Boys and girls should get the vaccination.
Cervical Cancer in Norfolk
3,200 women get cervical cancer each year, 50 in Norfolk
1,000 women die each year, approximately 16 in Norfolk
If you are in one of the above groups you are at greater risk of developing cervical cancer. Now, more than ever, you need to protect yourself, by:
Attending regular cervical screening
The NHS offers screening every 3 years (25-49-year olds) or 5 years (50- 64-year olds). Cervical screening looks for the HPV infection, all in less than 5 minutes. Don’t forget to read the Comfort Checklist before your appointment.
Ensuring children receive the HPV vaccination
This vaccination is safe and effective. It protects against high risk virus strains and is given to boys and girls in two doses, across two academic years (Year 8 & 9)
If you are finding it difficult to book a screening appointment or get a vaccination due to Covid-19, please put a reminder in your diary!
UK Cervical Cancer Checklist
Introducing the UK Cervical Cancer Comfort Checklist for a more comfortable cervical cancer screening
The Comfort Checklist aims to:
- Increase awareness and understanding of the need for regular screening amongst women.
- Increase the likelihood of cervical screening being perceived as a “comfortable” procedure and positive experience.
- Provide practical advice to overcome barriers that discourage women from getting a cervical screening.
Women’s Comfort Checklist
For a more comfortable cervical screening experience Cervical Screening is one of the best defences against cervical cancer and is essential for women and trans people with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64, who have ever been sexually active.
This list was developed to help ensure a comfortable screening experience. It aims to educate and empower you by providing advice on how to best prepare for screening and by explaining what you can expect from their GP or Practice nurse.
Simple steps to ensure your comfort:
Make an appointment:
Make an appointment with your GP or Practice nurse at a time that suits you. Spending a small amount of your time could save your life.
Prepare by doing the following:
❑ Review information on Cervical Screening so you know what to expect
❑ Wear loose comfortable clothing – you may be asked to remove clothing from waist down.
❑ Empty your bladder before you arrive at the clinic or ask to use the “loo” when you arrive.
❑ Try to stay as relaxed as possible – this will help minimize any discomfort. For example try to take some long slow and deep breaths to maintain a sense of calm.
❑ Consider bringing someone along to your appointment for support. Please discuss this with your health provider prior to the appointment.
❑ If you have experienced difficulties or trauma with previous smears, please let your healthcare provider know in advance so they can make adjustments.
Expect the following from your GP or Practice Nurse:
- An option to have a support person present eg. relative/friend/clinic nurse.
- Privacy to undress and dress.
- A sheet to drape across your stomach and thighs to minimize exposure and ensure your modesty.
- Easy to understand instructions during the procedure and reassurance. You can ask the GP or Practice nurse questions and ask him/her to stop at anytime.
- Sterilised/disposable medical instruments (presented at a comfortable temperature) – to take a sample.
- Further privacy to dress & provision of tissues, sanitary pads and hand washing facilities – if needed.
- If you need any personal reassurance feel free to ask whether your genitalia / reproductive organs appear normal.
- Feel free to ask when & how your results will be advised (generally provided within two weeks). Don’t hesitate to call your GP or Practice nurse to check on your results should you be concerned.
- If any abnormalities are detected, your GP or Practice nurse will advise of further management.
Proudly developed by the UK Cervical Cancer based on expert recommendations For information about the Comfort Checklist please visit www.ukcervicalcancer.org.uk/comfort-check-list/ UK Cervical Cancer www.ukcervicalcancer.org.uk
Fighting for a cervical cancer free future