80% of Women in Herts Test For Cervical Cancer

22 March 2010, 05:00

Its one year ago today since reality TV star Jade Goody passed away from cervical cancer.

And Heart has been speaking to doctors in Hertfordshire to see if they have seen a difference in the number of women who have come forward for cervical cancer screenings in the past year.

Hilary Angwin in a Public Health Consultant for East and North Hertfordshire, and has been telling Heart that they have:

“Both locally and nationally there has been a large increase. Nationally there have been an extra half a million screenings in England compared to the year before. Here in Hertfordshire, our levels of screening for eligible women who were due cervical screening tests, was below 80 percent in 07-08 and last year the figures were over 80 percent. So we have seen an increase locally.”

According to doctors in the county, the main increase in woman coming forward to smear tests has been those aged 25-30. And Hilary has been telling us that since Jade Goody’s death more girls, aged 12 and 13, are learning about the HPV vaccine:

“There’s has been increase awareness in that and we are very keen to say that having the HPV can significantly reduce your chances of getting cervical cancer.”

Click here to hear Dr Angwin explain the benefits of the HPV vaccine

Cervical Cancer screening saves around 4 and a half thousand lives every year

But do we know the symptoms?

Abnormal cells found on the cervix during a cervical screening test are usually at an early pre-cancer stage, and don’t cause any symptoms. Treating the abnormal cells prevents cancer developing.

If abnormal cells do develop into cervical cancer, you may have the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, for example between periods or after
  • Smelly vaginal discharge
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Vaginal bleeding after the menopause.

These symptoms aren’t always due to cervical caner, but if you have them, you should visit your GP.

Causes of cervical cancer.

The exact cause of cervical cancer isn’t fully understood at present. But there are a number of factors that make cervical cancer more likely. However it is important to not that some women who have cervical cancer don’t appear to have any of these risk factors

  • Smoke
  • Start to have sex at an early stage
  • Have many sexual partners, or have a partner who has had many partners
  • Have taken the contraceptive pill long-term
  • Have a weakened immune system

All women between the ages of 25 and 64 are eligible for a free cervical screening test every three to five years

If you have any questions or want more information there’s more at http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/cervical/ and http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening-test/Pages/Introduction.aspx