NHS Tayside’s Public Health and Gynaecology teams are raising awareness of the importance of regular cervical screening as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (23-29 January).
A series of events are taking place to share information on the benefits of cervical smear tests and HPV vaccines and to encourage more people to attend screening.
An information stall is being held at Ninewells throughout the week for staff and visitors to get information and ask any questions they may have about cervical screening. The stall also features a selfie photo booth for people to take pictures with a variety of props and spread the message of cervical cancer prevention and cervical screening on social media.
On Saturday (28 January) the teams are taking over the Camperdown Parkrun to help raise awareness amongst participants. They will take their information stall and selfie booth to the event, with members of the team taking part in the run and encouraging others to wear pink in support of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. Anyone who wishes to walk, jog or run the 5k route can sign up for free at www.parkrun.org.uk/camperdown.
A drop-in smear clinic is also taking place on Friday 3 February at Ninewells Hospital for anyone aged 25-65 who is overdue or has never had a smear test. Appointments can be booked by calling 01382 632305 or just drop-in to Area 3 in the outpatient clinics between 4 and 7pm for screening.
Consultant in Public Health Heidi Douglas said, “Cervical screening is one of the best ways to prevent cervical cancer, as it can identify the early stages of the disease, before there are any signs or symptoms.
“Screening saves thousands of lives each year in the UK but around one in four women living in Tayside are overdue for their smear test. Women who have never had a smear or are long overdue for their smear are at an increased risk of cervical precancer and cervical cancer compared to women who have regular smear tests.”
Gynae cancer lead Dr Kalpana Ragupathy said, “Around 30 to 40 women in Tayside are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and sadly many have not been for regular screening. Individuals who present with symptoms rather than changes in the smear are more often diagnosed with later stages of cervical cancer, which are harder to treat, with treatment often involving radiotherapy and chemotherapy which can lead to loss of fertility.
“The key symptoms of cervical cancer are persistent irregular or unexpected bleeding or discharge. These symptoms can also be associated with benign conditions, so it’s important that the cervix is checked to ensure there are no sinister changes.
“We hope that the initiatives undertaken jointly by Public Health and the gynae cancer unit during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week will enable more individuals to have a smear test done and address some of the barriers that might have deterred them in the past.”
Want to know more about your smears?
Talk to your nurse or GP
Visit nhsinform.scot or call 0800 224488 (textphone 18001 0800 22 44 88). The helpline is open every day 8am-10pm and also provides an interpreting service.
Visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust on social media, at jostrust.org.uk or call 0808 8028000