GPs in Tower Hamlets are encouraging women to attend their free NHS smear test to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
To help raise awareness, women are also being urged to support the #SmearForSmear campaign on social media as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2019.
Cervical cancer screening, also known as a smear test, is a free health test that checks for cell changes on your cervix caused by high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV).
Every three to five years, women in the target age group (25 to 64 years old) are invited for a free NHS cervical screening appointment. This type of testing prevents 75 per cent of cervical cancers, yet in Tower Hamlets around a third of women who are eligible for a smear test do not attend.
While symptoms of cervical cancers are not always obvious (hence the importance of regular screening), they can include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding – during or after sex or between periods
- Pain and discomfort during sex
- Unusual vaginal discharge, and
- Lower back pain in the lower back or pelvis.
The #SmearForSmear campaign, which runs during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week from 21-27 January, is being led by Jo’s Trust. Its website www.jostrust.org.uk has information on how to book a cervical screening appointment and what happens during the test.
In addition, women can support the campaign on social media to help raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening. To get involved, just put on some lipstick, smear it across your check, take a selfie and share it – accompanied by the hashtag – #SmearForSmear.
GPs say attending screening appointments can be crucial because early diagnosis and treatment of cancer greatly increases the chances of survival.
Dr Tania Anastasiadis, a local GP and Clinical Lead for Cancer at NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Every year in the UK, around 3,000 women and people with a cervix are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“While there’s no single way to prevent cervical cancer, there are ways of reducing the risk. Spotting and treating it at an early stage is key to successful treatment so having a smear test is not only very important, it can help save lives.
“As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2019, we are urging women and people with a cervix in Tower Hamlets to attend their regular screening appointments when invited.”
You can find more information on Cervical Screening on the NHS England website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/
 Cervical Screening Programme, England - 2017-18: Report from https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/cervical-screening-programme/england---2017-18