Do Three Simple Things That Could Save your Life
Cervical Cancer Prevention week runs from 24th to 30th January. The aim is to raise awareness that this is a potentially preventable disease.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
1. Get vaccinated against the high-risk human papilloma virus (HRHPV). Persistent infection with this common virus puts women at risk of cervical cancer. The virus is transmitted by intimate contact and 4 out of 5 women will be infected at some stage. The vaccination is known to be effective in women who have never been infected by the virus and ideally should be administered before the onset of sexual activity. Thus it is only available to school age girls on the NHS. You may be eligible to receive the vaccination privately, however. If it is too late for you, think about getting your daughters vaccinated.
2. Get your screening done. Screening for cervical cancer is highly effective at preventing cancer. This is because it can detect cell changes that are not cancer and cause no symptoms. If undetected and untreated however, women with these cell changes may be at risk of cancer. Treatment for these pre-cancerous cell changes is safe and effective. Women tell me they put off their screening because they fear the test. The test is a little uncomfortable but should not be painful. The potential consequences of not having a smear are surely more frightening.
3. Stop smoking. I know it is easier said than done but you are more likely to get cervical cancer if you smoke. This is because smoking affects the immunity of the cervix, making it more difficult to get rid of infection with HRHPV, meaning the risk of pre-cancerous cervical cell changes is significantly higher. Your general health also improves if you stop smoking. Your GP can provide support to make sure you give up for good.
In addition to doing these three things, tell all your female friends about them. Think how wonderful you will feel if you save a friend from getting cervical cancer.
Be health aware. Protect yourselves and the ones you care for.