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Cervical cancer: the facts

In Australia, women are offered a Pap Smear every 2 years. It used to be every 5 years in England.
In 2010 it is every 3 years in England. Scotland has recommended every 3 years too.
Personally I think every 2 years at least!

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in younger women and is often mistakenly linked to promiscuity.

About 4.4 million women are invited for cervical screening each year in England and about 24,000 have a severely abnormal cervical screening result. Early treatment can prevent those cervical changes developing into cancer.

HPV infection is the major cause of cervical cancer. There are many different types of HPV. It is sometimes called the genital wart virus as some types of HPV cause genital warts. The types that cause warts are not the types that cause cervical cancer. But there are other types of HPV that are considered ‘high risk’ for cancer of the cervix. HPV is passed on from person to another through sexual contact. You can get the HPV virus if you have only ever had one or two partner’s and been faithfully married for 30 years. It is rather like a common cold virus – Extremely common and quite difficult to avoid. Just about every person who has had sex will have come in contact with a strain of this virus. Condoms don’t seem to always protect against this illness. You don’t need to be sleeping with 5 different men or women a month to get HPV. Although admittedly you might be increasing your chances.
Women who get cervical cancer have had past infections with HPV. High risk types of HPV can cause changes in the cells covering the cervix that make them more likely to become cancerous in time. But most women infected with these viruses do NOT develop cervical cancer.

According to Cancer Research UK women who smoke are more likely to get cervical cancer than those who do not.

Taking the pill could increase a woman’s risk of cervical cancer – although the pill is thought to protect against ovarian cancer and cancer of the womb.

Women with a weakened immune system are also more likely to get cervical cancer, as are those who have had a large number of children.

It’s important to remember that as the cells change in your cervix you may have no symptoms whatsoever. It is vital to get checked regularly as unfortunately we women cannot see what is going on! Symptoms may be strange spotting, bleeding, abnormal discharge. Sadly, these symptoms usually do not express themselves until after the cancer has begun. It’s much better to treat the abnormal pre-cancerous cells!

If you are given the all clear that’s fabulous but don’t forget to keep going for smears as cells can change over time without you having a clue.

If you have an abnormal result don’t panic. This is when you need to take action. If you have ‘low’ grade abnormal cells you may well be given another smear and monitored very closely to ensure the cells do not change further. Treatment to remove the cells may be needed. If you have ‘high’ grade changes, this means you will no doubt require treatment from a specialist. This often involves zapping or removing the pre-cancerous cells quick smart. Stopping them in their tracks so to speak! You may need to repeat this procedure a few times and perhaps quite a few times throughout you’re life. It will certainly be worth the inconvenience if it means it prevents the cells from changing to cancerous. It is vital to follow through all treatments.

Jade Goody has certainly raised awareness of this illness. Jade admitted after abnormal smears that had ‘high’ grade cell changes she did go for some treatments. However, she didn’t keep going back for treatments to remove the cells. Jade was very unlucky as she actually had an abnormal smear result at just 15. This is unusual to have cell changes at this exceptionally young age. It’s incredibly sad. Let us ensure this young woman’s life is not in vain. For the sake of her two lovely little boys who are now without their mother, let’s book that dreaded appointment, lie back and let the doctor do the business. It will be over in about 2 minutes and here’s the best bit – it could save your life.

So let’s have sneaky peak at what can go on down there…

Please let me know you’re personal experiences? Have you ever had an abnormal result? How often do you go for smears?

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About Alana Munro

Writer. Mama to three, wife to one. Red wine consumer.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “

  1. >Holy crap! I'm booking mines now.

    Posted by Anonymous | November 13, 2010, 6:20 am
  2. >Its so important as women that we know what is going on with our bodys.Thanks for the reminder x

    Posted by Anonymous | November 13, 2010, 9:37 am

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