World Cancer Day raises awareness of cancer detection, treatment and prevention. During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2020, which took place in January, reports indicated the target for women aged 25-49 who attended screening in England is around 10% lower than the government’s 80% target.
Public Health England (PHE) launched the first ever national cervical screening campaign, ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’, in March 2019 after the number of women attending screening reached a 20-year low. The campaign focussed on eligible women under age 35, south Asian, black, and lesbian, bisexual women and those from poor backgrounds.
While cervical screening is not test for cancer, it helps prevent cancer by detecting the health of the cervix – the opening to the womb from the vagina; but there is still a mixture of fear and nonchalance towards the test, which became an NHS screening programme in 1988.
I spoke to Isha Webber, 30, from Woolwich in South London about her experience of finding abnormal cells in her cervix and how it turned her into a gynaecological advocate, while studying for a family law qualification.
My first cervical screening test came back normal, so I was fine with the process…
I didn’t get a reminder letter but was at my doctors in June 2018 for a check-up because I was on antidepressants. While taking my blood pressure the nurse said, “Oh, the system says you’re due for a cervical screening test”, so I booked one for July.
I had the test on a Tuesday and got a call on Thursday the same week…
A receptionist told me they found abnormal cells that needed to be removed and I was booked in for the Monday.
Isha went to her previous screening test, which was the first one she was invited to as she was then within the eligible age bracket. She was shocked that her second routine test indicated abnormal cells. The NHS offers cervical screening to anyone with a cervix between ages 25-64; this is supposed to be done every three years for those aged 25-49 and every five years for those between 50-64. Those 65 or older are offered screening if a previous test picked up abnormal cells in the cervix.Continue reading “‘I didn’t know anyone else who had abnormal cervical cells’”