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So, why should I have a smear test?

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The more I research into stats about cervical cancer the more I realise, that when it comes to cervical cancer, that the old saying ‘ignorance kills’ is painfully true. Cervical cancer is really treatable — if it’s caught early enough — and regular smear tests every three years should hopefully see to that.

Now, I know that Jade Goody’s untimely death bought cervical cancer into the limelight but so much more needs to be done to de-mystify the smear test process and banish any remaining taboos on the subject. Maybe we’re squeamish about discussing cervical cancer because, it’s, you know, *cough* down there?  Maybe it’s just the word ‘smear’ which really doesn’t help? Or maybe we should just get over ourselves and stop being embarrassed about our bodies and start taking care of our health!

I’ve included a few of the most helpful links I found, but just to get you started, here’s the top three things that you need to know about cervical cancer and why you should get a smear test.

1. Having regular smear tests can help detect abnormal pre-cancerous cells. Around 1000 women die of cervical cancer each year in the UK and you have to wonder what percentage of those women could have been saved. Even if it’s just one woman, it’s worth it. Want to find out if you might develop cervical cancer? Have a smear test.

2. In a staggering 99.7% of cervical cancer cases, a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV), has been shown to be present, which is a very common type of virus. Fortunately, the type of HPV which can lead to cervical cancer is rare. So, if cervical cancer isn’t hereditary, and there’s no way of guessing if you might or might not be prone to developing it, you need to have a smear test to find out.

Seriously, it takes more time to boil a kettle than it does to have a smear test!

Seriously, it takes more time to boil a kettle than it does to have a smear test!

3. OK, go and put the kettle on – just fill it enough for one cuppa. Make it and then come back…  You done? Good – that is longer than it takes to get a smear test.

Seriously. Having a smear test is quick, and easy, and thanks to the NHS, it’s also free for you at your doctor, the local family planning clinic or GUM (Genito-urinary medicine) clinic.

Want to find out more:

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

Helpline: 0808 802 8000 open Monday – Friday providing information and support on a range of topics including screening concerns, screening results, cervical abnormalities, cervical cancer, treatments and survivorship issues.

The NHS cervical screening website.

 Cervical Screening in Wales.

Cervical screening in N. Ireland.

HPV Testing.

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9 responses »

  1. I don’t understand why women put off getting the test – it’s uncomfortable, sure, but it lasts a few seconds. A few seconds of discomfort vs. months or years of illness or even death. Thank you for making it clear why all women should get it done! No excuses!

    Reply
    • I’m going to write up a post about one of my friends who went from having no problems at all, to what they call CIN2 – moderate cell changes – which if not picked up on and treated could have led to cervical cancer. That was in the space of three years. Thank goodness she went for the test, got treatment a few weeks later and five years on is still absolutely fine. It’s a life-saver.

      Reply
  2. Nikki,

    This is a great initiative of yours! We women definitely need to stop being shy about our reproductive organs (and our breasts) and take advantage of EVERYTHING available to us to preserve and protect our health – particularly when simple tests are FREE!

    Best,
    Monique

    Reply
    • I think in the UK we’re pretty open and informed about breast cancer… but I think cervical cancer issues tend to be not discussed at all. Hopefully at the end of this project, a few more of us will be happy to talk openly about this!

      Reply
  3. Hate those things – but, like the dentist, the checkups must be done or your teeth will fall out and your bits drop off.

    Only kidding.

    😉

    Reply
    • Hahaha! I’m pretty sure your bits WON’T drop off! One thing – I had such a completely different experience once I discovered that I have a tilted cervix (oh, so much more about me and my ‘shy’ cervix in posts to come…) but being able to tell the nurse that so that she could use the right speculum made all the difference – in and out in moments! And no dropped bits…

      Reply
  4. it’s off to a good start. But, I do agree, the word ‘smear’ doesn’t have a very pleasant connotation.

    in the US, I think it’s even recommended annually instead of every three years.

    Reply

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