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Cervical Cancer Prevention Week


Every day in the United Kingdom, nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three women will lose their lives to the disease (source: Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust). Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women aged 35 or under.

With Cervical Cancer Prevention Week almost here, this is an ideal time to help raise awareness of the disease and ways in which to prevent it.

So how does cervical cancer come about? In the majority of cases, the disease is caused by a persistent infection with a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes damage to the cervical cells. HPV is a common virus transmitted through skin to skin contact in the genital area.

Symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious at first and there are sometimes no symptoms with early stage cervical cancer. There are however recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer as highlighted below:

  • Unusual bleeding during or after sexual intercourse;
  • Discomfort or pain during sex;
  • Lower back pain;
  • Swelling of one of your legs; and
  • Bone pain.

If you have any of the above symptoms you should see your GP.  Lisa Murray, colposcopy senior nurse at Good Hope Hospital, says: “Cervical screening, available to all women aged between 25 and 64, is a key method of preventing cervical cancer as it detects any abnormalities on the cervix which if left untreated could lead to cancer.

“The highest incidence of cervical cancer occurring is in women aged between 30 and 39.  Cervical screening is a simple and painless procedure and with early detection and treatment, it is estimated to prevent up to 75 percent of cervical cancers.  We urge women to book an appointment with their GP as soon as they receive their reminder or to contact their GP if they think their screening is due.

“If diagnosed early, the outlook for those with cervical cancer will usually be very good and a complete cure is often possible.  This is why it is so important for women to attend appointments every three years through the NHS national screening programme.

“Support and advice will always be available to those who have been diagnosed. Friends and family can be a powerful support system and talking to others who are in the same situation can be a good way to learn about the condition. Reading about symptoms and treatments will also help in gaining a better understanding of the disease.”

For more information on cervical cancer, visit the NHS Choices website (

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week takes place between 25-31 January 2015.

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