by Karolina Fedorowicz, LOVELIVE Production Editor
Even though cervical screenings are offered for free in the UK, according to the latest government figures, nearly ‘a third of eligible individuals – women and people with a cervix aged between 25 and 64 – were not screened.’
We all know just how important cervical screenings are (in many cases, an early detection of cervical cancer makes it almost entirely curable) and how dangerous leaving them too late can be. Currently, in the UK, an average of two people die a day from cervical cancer, yet a whopping 83% of those deaths could be prevented if it was detected earlier.
There’s an array of reasons as to why patients don’t attend their offered screenings – ranging from embarrassment, fear of discomfort involved in the procedure to simple forgetfulness.
Speaking from personal experience, I know all the above reasons to be true amongst my friends.
I, like many others, had no idea what to expect from my first appointment. I knew how important it was, so to help me overcome the fear, I spoke to some of my friends. Not only did they completely understand in terms of my concerns and how I felt, but they also reassured me about the process and talked me through what happens during the appointment.
Medicine is forever growing and improving patient experiences. Home tests are now available for COVID, pregnancies and some sexual health infections – and there is no reason for cervical screening tests not to follow suit. In an attempt to increase the number of successful screenings, companies like Teal are currently developing and testing at-home self-testing kits. This is a huge and exciting step for those who are anxious about attending an appointment in person. You can read more about the project and the test kits being developed by Teal here: https://techcrunch.com/2023/01/31/teal-health-seed/
Research UK established that 99.8% cervical cancer cases are preventable, so earlier detection is essential to allow earlier medical intervention and save lives.
Whenever you can, make sure you and your loved ones attend the screenings regularly – it only takes a 15-minute appointment and could potentially save your life. The best news is, if all goes well, you will only need to do it once every three years! For me, the most helpful element was speaking to the people in my life who regularly show up for their appointments and know exactly what to expect.
Hear their story and encourage each other to keep screening, it makes a world of difference.
There are a few wonderful charities across the UK that keep the conversations about the importance of cervical screenings alive and ongoing. One of those charities is Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (https://www.jostrust.org.uk/). If you’d like to join in on their conversation on social media, whether to share your experience or look for advice, share your thoughts with the hashtag #LetsTalkScreenings. If you have any questions or concerns, whether it’s about your appointment or cervical cancer itself, there’s also a Helpline you can phone or email to ease your anxiety!
(Animation created by Katie Wilson, LOVELIVE Senior Designer)