Don’t Put It Off

Having regular medical check-ups is not always something, as women, we do. We always say we’ll get around to it, but sometimes it happens too late, writes Tracy Hargreaves

When Big Brother star, Jade Goody died at the age of 27 of cervical cancer, it shocked a lot of people, mainly due to her being so young. It had previously been seen as a disease you could only get when you were older and that young women didn’t need to go for a smear, because they wouldn’t be affected. Whilst getting cervical cancer under 25 is rare, unfortunately it can still happen. Following Jade’s death, awareness of the cancer grew and the number of over 25-year-olds taking up smear appointments increased dramatically.

However, it is still something not really talked about and ITV soap Coronation Street has focused on it recently as one of its major storylines in the hope of bringing it to the forefront of women’s minds making them think about getting checked out.

Cervical Cancer Week takes place 21st-27th January 2019 and is running the #smearforsmear campaign. It will look at how cervical cancer can be prevented and how you can reduce your risk of the disease as well as helping to educate others. An incredible one in four women don’t take up their screening invitation. That’s over one million women.

According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, a UK charity dedicated to women affected by cervical cancer and abnormalities, screening uptake in England is at a 19-year low. Two women lose their lives to cervical cancer every day. Yet uptake is particularly low in younger women aged 25-29, even though screening prevents up to 75 per cent of cervical cancer and usually takes less than five minutes to perform.

But would you recognise some of the signs of cervical cancer? Below are some of the symptoms to be aware of.

• Abnormal bleeding: during or after sexual intercourse, or between periods
• Post-menopausal bleeding: if you are not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or have stopped it for six weeks or more
• Unusual vaginal discharge
• Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse
• Lower back pain.

If you are suffering from any of these, no matter what age you are, make an appointment with your GP. Some women may find they have a cervical abnormality. This doesn’t mean that you have cancer. It means you have changes in some of the cells in your cervix that, if not treated, might develop into cervical cancer in time and not all types of cervical abnormalities require treatment. This decision is made according to the type of changes seen in the cervical cells.

If you make one change in 2019 then think of the #smearforsmear campaign and book an appointment. Don’t put it off!

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Tedd Walmsley

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Tedd Walmsley managing director of Live Magazines shares his views on the latest topics in media.

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