This September, the National Screening Unit is asking women to think about the ones they love and have a smear test.
The message for Cervical Screening Awareness Month is that it’s worth women putting their health first for the ones they love. Women are encouraged to consider the impact their health has on family and friends, and ensure their smears are up to date.
Having a smear test doesn’t take long and is a simple procedure that is proven to save lives.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable of all cancers and screening women every 3 years can reduce the risk of developing it by up to 90 percent.
The cervical smear test saves lives because it’s all about early detection. The sooner any abnormal cells are picked up, the sooner a woman can be treated.
Smears are screening tests to find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. These cell changes are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus, which most people come into contact with at some stage in their life.
Most HPV infections clear by themselves, but some high-risk types can cause cell changes on the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer 10 to 20 years after infection.
Abnormal changes in the cervix as a result of HPV happen very slowly. Regular smears mean there’s a high likelihood that abnormal cells will be found and treated before they become cancer.
Women who have had the HPV vaccine should also remember to have regular cervical smears.
Regular cervical smear tests are the best preventative against cervical cancer, and screening every 3 years is recommended for women aged 20 to 70 years who have ever been sexually active.
Women can find out when their next smear is due by calling either their GP or Freephone 0800 729 729.