Cervical and Ovarian Cancer

As part of the programme the team focus on promoting cervical and ovarian cancer symptoms and the cervical screening (smear test) programme in conjunction with the NHS National Screening Programme. 

Cervical screening

At present, the National Screening Programme offers screening to all women who are aged 25 to 64.

In general, women are invited to cervical screening every 3 years (25 – 49 year olds) and every 5 years (49 – 64 years old).

Why is screening important?

Cervical screening (smear test) checks the health of the cervix. It helps find changes in the cervix before they have a chance to develop into cancer.

Treating early changes can prevent cervical cancer from developing. Cervical screening saves

the lives of thousands of women every year.

Late for your date?

You’ll put yourself through a lot to look pretty, but you won’t have a smear? are you late for your date?
It’s your date.

You can make an appointment for a time to suit, either at your Doctors or a Family Planning Clinic.
If you want a female member of staff, that’s fine.
The test will only take a few minutes. You can ask any questions before, during or after the test.  Staff are there to help.

What happens at Cervical Screening?

The test is very simple and only takes a few minutes.

The nurse or doctor (a female) uses an instrument (a speculum) to open the vagina and will take a few cells from the surface of your cervix using a special soft brush.

These cells will then be sent to a laboratory for testing.

Most women have normal results. Sometimes a sample is not clear and you may need to have another test. If you have an abnormal result, it does not mean you have cancer.  It means that some of the cells may have undergone changes and may need to be treated. If you have an abnormal result your doctor / nurse will talk to you about having further tests.

Further information is available from www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk

Does cervical cancer have any symptoms?

Cervical cancer often has no symptoms, but visit your doctor if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding during or after sex
  • Bleeding after you have been through the menopause
  • Any unpleasant vaginal discharge
  • Discomfort or pain during sex.

These symptoms may be signs of other common conditions. They do not necessarily mean you have cancer.

What is HPV?

A virus called Human Papilloma Virus or HPV can cause changes in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer.

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, caught by having sexual contact with someone who has it. Most sexually active women will be infected with HPV at some point because it is very common.
The types of HPV that cause cervical cancer have no symptoms.
Usually the virus does not cause any problems and clears up on its own.
Cervical screening detects early cell changes in the cervix that are caused by HPV. Treating these cells prevents cancer developing.

HPV Vaccination

A vaccine is being offered for all 12 to 18 year old girls.

Your local NHS will contact you when it is time for your vaccination.

By having your vaccination you will reduce your risk of most types of cervical cancer when you are older.

It is important that you still have a smear test when you are older (25 and over).

For more information visit: www.nhs.uk/hpv

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Many women with ovarian cancer notice changes to their body, particularly in the abdominal area. Symptoms can include:

  • Bloating or unusual feeling of fullness in the abdomen
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen or lower back
  • Passing urine more often than usual
  • Constipation

These symptoms are usually caused by problems that are much less serious; however they should not be dismissed.  If you have any of these symptoms and they don’t clear up after several weeks, make sure you see your doctor. Early detection is important.

For more information visit www.ovarian.org.uk

Screening for ovarian cancer

At present there is no national screening programme for ovarian cancer. This is because tests are not yet reliable enough. Cancer Research UK is helping support a screening trial. Women who have a family history of ovarian cancer may be offered regular checkups. These examinations involve blood tests and ultrasound scans.

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