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Face your fear of the cervical smear

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under, yet many women remain unaware that it is a preventable disease.

Over 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year, yet despite this an alarming 20% of women do not attend their cervical screening appointments, and only 50% of girls offered the HPV vaccine elect to have the jab. With this in mind, raising awareness of how these procedures may help prevent the disease is vital.

According to Mr Narendra Pisal, Consultant Gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, 'there has been some concern recently over the number of young women who are not attending their smear tests, with London holding the lowest rate of screening attendances in the UK, with less than 7/10 attending their test." Mr Pisal discusses why so many are responsible for missing their screenings, “It is understandable why so many women are missing their tests, with many of my patients being either scared or embarrassed about getting it done. However this is based on lack of experience and isn’t at all accurate - a smear test is a simple 5 minute examination, and it could potentially save your life so it is vital to prioritise it.”

He continues, “The biggest risk for cervical cancer is not having a smear test and remaining unaware of the development of the pre-cancer. It does worry me that so many young women are not going for their smear tests, and it is important that we combat this so that the figures do not continue to rise.”

Since screening was introduced in 1988, incidents and mortalities related to the cancer have dramatically decreased, and with the recent introduction of the HPV vaccine we are getting closer to preventing most cases of the disease. However, worrying decrease in the number of women attending screening and low uptake of the HPV vaccine suggest women are still unaware of the options available to them to protect themselves against this preventable cancer. Mr Pisal advises young women to educate themselves and book their screening appointment,

“In the UK, smear tests save over 3000 lives every year by preventing cervical cancer. The entire routine takes only a few minutes and is nothing to worry about. Women owe it to themselves and their loved ones to be responsible.”

HCA Healthcare UK widely offers cervical smear tests across its various sites including London Bridge Hospital, The Lister Hospital and The Wellington Hospital.

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