Cervical Screening Awareness Week: 17 – 23 June 2024

Posted on: 20 June 2024 in Uncategorized

This dedicated week aims to raise awareness about the importance of cervical screening (smear tests), encourage participation, and provide vital information and support to those who may have concerns or questions about the process.

Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2024:

Everything You Need to Know

Cervical Screening Awareness Week is an annual event in the UK dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of cervical screening (smear tests) and encouraging more people to attend their appointments. This year, the event runs from 17th to 23rd June 2024.

Despite its importance, nearly 1 in 3 people do not attend their cervical screening test. Whether it’s due to fear, lack of information, or other reasons, it’s crucial to address these concerns and provide support.

Below, we have answered some frequently asked questions about cervical screening and shared resources for anyone seeking further information or reassurance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cervical Screening

How painful is a cervical screening (smear) test? Does it hurt?

Cervical screening is generally not painful, though some people may experience slight discomfort or a feeling of pressure. The test involves inserting a speculum into the vagina to collect cells from the cervix using a small brush. The entire process takes only a few minutes. If you feel nervous or have specific concerns, talk to your healthcare provider beforehand to discuss ways to make the experience more comfortable.

What is a cervical screening (smear) test looking for?

A cervical screening test is designed to detect abnormal cells on the cervix that could potentially develop into cervical cancer if left untreated. The test can also identify the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a significant risk factor for cervical cancer. Early detection through regular screening can lead to prompt treatment and significantly lower the risk of cervical cancer.

Is cervical screening necessary?

Yes, cervical screening is a crucial part of preventative healthcare for anyone with a cervix, typically recommended for those aged 25 to 64 in the UK. Regular screening helps detect abnormal cells early before they develop into cancer. Even if you feel healthy and have no symptoms, it’s important to attend your screening appointments as scheduled.

How often is cervical screening?

In the UK, cervical screening intervals are based on age and previous results:

  • Ages 25-49: Every three years
  • Ages 50-64: Every five years If any abnormalities are detected, your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent screenings.

What is the difference between a smear test and cervical screening?

The terms “smear test” and “cervical screening” are often used interchangeably. Both refer to the same procedure where cells are collected from the cervix to check for abnormalities and HPV. The name “smear test” comes from the traditional method of spreading (or smearing) the collected cells onto a microscope slide for examination. Modern methods may use liquid-based cytology, but the purpose remains the same.

How do you prepare for a cervical screening test?

To prepare for a cervical screening test:

  • Try to schedule your appointment when you’re not on your period, as it can make the test easier.
  • Avoid using vaginal medications, lubricants, or creams for at least 24 hours before your test.
  • It’s helpful to wear comfortable clothing that is easy to remove from the waist down.
  • Relax and take deep breaths during the test to help reduce any discomfort.

Should I have a cervical screening test if I’m LGBTQ+?

Yes, cervical screening is recommended for everyone with a cervix, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes lesbian, bisexual, and trans men who retain their cervix. The risk of cervical abnormalities exists for anyone with a cervix, and regular screening is vital for early detection and prevention of cervical cancer.

Where to Find More Information and Support

If you have more questions or need additional support regarding cervical screening, the following resources are available:

  • NHS Cervical Screening Programme: Comprehensive information on cervical screening and how to book your test. Visit the NHS website
  • Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust: Offers support and advice for those concerned about cervical screening and cancer. Visit Jo’s Trust website
  • Cervical Cancer Prevention Week: Resources and support specifically tailored to prevent cervical cancer. Learn more here
  • Health Unlocked: An online community where you can connect with others and share your experiences. Join the community

Remember, attending your cervical screening test is an important step in taking care of your health. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider or one of the many support resources available.

Take action this Cervical Screening Awareness Week and book your appointment today!

To find out more about Women’s Health Services at Sussex Premier Health please take a look at our wide range of treatments and services on our website.

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