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Cervical screening saves lives

A new campaign is raising awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and reminding women that cervical screening can stop cancer before it starts.

The Public Health England campaign, which launched on 5th March, encourages all women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letters, and if they missed previous invites, to book an appointment at their GP practice.

Two women die every day from cervical cancer in England. Women can protect themselves against the risk of cervical cancer by attending their screening when invited; it is estimated that cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives each year. However, cervical screening is at a 20- year low, with one in four  omen in the UK not attending their test.

The screening test, which only lasts a few minutes, is not a test for cancer. In fact, attending regular screening can help stop cervical cancer before it starts by preventing potentially harmful cells from developing.

Who is the screening for?

If you are a woman, or someone with a cervix, you will be invited for cervical screening at regular  intervals:

If you’re aged 25-49, you’ll be invited every 3 years

If you’re aged 50-64, you’ll be invited every 5 years

If you’re due to have a cervical screening, you’ll receive a letter in the post. Don’t ignore it, book your cervical screening straight away.

If you missed your previous screening, please contact your GP practice and they will book you an appointment.

Where do I need to go for my screening test?

Cervical screening takes place at your GP practice. In Leicester city, if you prefer, you can also have it done at St Peter’s Sexual Health Clinic in the Haymarket Shopping Centre (opposite Primark).

What happens during cervical screening?

Your screening will only take a minute or two, the whole appointment usually takes around ten minutes. During your screening a nurse will give you a private space in which to undress from the waist down. They will also give you a paper sheet to cover yourself and will ask you to lie on the bed. They’ll then place a speculum (a hollow cylinder with a rounded edge) in your vagina. This helps them see your cervix. Then, using a small brush, they’ll gently gather some cells from your cervix. They’ll remove the speculum, put your sample in a pot and send it off for testing. You’ll get your results around two weeks later.

Your appointment

Your nurse is there to answer any questions or concerns you may have before your appointment, so please talk to them if you’re feeling nervous. There are also a range of things you can do to put yourself at ease during your screening:

  • If you’d like, you can take a trusted friend or family member with you
  • Wear a long, loose dress or skirt. It may make you feel more covered during your screening
  • Take long, deep breaths to help you relax
  • Listen to a podcast or some music during your screening to put you at ease
  • Speculums come in a range of different sizes. It is a rounded cylinder which is gently opened so nurses can see your cervix. You may want to discuss the size of the speculum with the nurse before you have the test.

For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalscreening

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