Cervical Screening Awareness Week, 2018
As part of the occupational health services that we provide to clients, there are some elements that relate specifically to the health and well-being of female employees.
This is especially topical this week since 11-17 June is Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2018.
Every eligible woman and person with a cervix should have the opportunity to attend cervical screening.
What is Cervical Screening?
Cervical screening is the most effective way of preventing cervical cancer.
Every year in the UK, around 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, which is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under.
Across the whole of the UK, women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening. Women aged 25–49 are invited every three years, and women aged 50–64 are invited every five years.
A cervical screening test (previously known as a smear test) is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix; the entrance to the womb from the vagina. Detecting and removing abnormal cervical cells can prevent cervical cancer.
Testing for abnormal cells
Cervical screening isn’t a test for cancer, it’s a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix.
Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women, the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Most of these changes won’t lead to cervical cancer, and the cells may go back to normal on their own.
The cervical screening programme
The aim of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme is to reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and the number of women who die from the condition.
Since the screening programme was introduced in the 1980s, the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year.
What happens when you go for cervical screening?
Screening is usually carried out by the practice nurse at your GP clinic. You can ask to have a female doctor or nurse.
If possible, try to book an appointment during the middle of your menstrual cycle (usually 14 days from the start of your last period), as this can ensure a better sample of cells is taken.
Your screening appointment
The cervical screening test usually takes around 5 minutes to carry out. The doctor or nurse will gently put an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. This holds the walls of the vagina open, so the cervix can be seen.
A small, soft brush will be used to gently collect some cells from the surface of your cervix. Some women find the procedure a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing, but for most women, it’s not painful.
The cell sample is then sent off to a laboratory for analysis, and you should receive the result within 2 weeks.
How to get involved in Cervical Screening Awareness Week
Organised by the charity, Jo’s Trust, the intention behind Cervical Screening Awareness Week is to highlight the importance of regular cervical screening.
People can organise their own fundraising event but, ultimately, they want to encourage women to join the conversation.
This could be as simple as using the hashtag #SmearTestsSaveLives on social media, or perhaps even sharing your own experience. They want to provide information and reassurance around any fears or embarrassment that women might have.
If you’d like to find out how we help businesses provide their female employees with health and wellbeing advice in the workplace, contact the team at Fusion and give us a call today.