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​Reduce the risk of cervical cancer – take a smear test

GPs in Lewisham are encouraging women to attend their free NHS smear test to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

To help raise awareness, women are also been 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 Lewisham almost 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 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 Esther Appleby, local GP and Clinical Lead for Cancer at NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

"Every year in the UK, there are around  3,000 new cases of cervical cancer.

 Spotting and treating it at an early stage is key to successful treatment and this is what a smear test aims to do.  

"As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2019, we are urging women and people with a cervix in Lewisham to attend their regular screening appointments when invited."