Specialist nurse urges women to attend smear tests

Bradford-based nurse promotes cervical screening programme

A specialist nurse colposcopist is urging women not to miss routine smear tests which could save their lives.

Suzanne Taylor works at Bradford Teaching Hospitals – an area where the percentage of women aged 25-64 taking up the cervical screening programme is 62%, below the national average of 74%.

Despite cervical cancer being largely preventable thanks to screening and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme, every day in the UK eight women are diagnosed with the disease and three women lose their lives to it.

It remains the second most common cancer for women aged under 35.

Ms Taylor, speaking during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week which ended on January 30, said ‘early detection is key’ to increasing survival rates, as is ‘educating everyone on the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it’.

She said: ‘It’s vital that women attend their routine smear test invitations and don’t ignore their appointment, as this test can help reduce your risk of cervical cancer.'

In the majority of cases, the disease is caused by a persistent infection with HPV which causes damage to the cervical cells.

Symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious but include unusual bleeding during or after sexual intercourse, inter-menstrual bleeding, and persistent, unpleasant or unusual vaginal discharge.

Ms Taylor added: ‘Cervical screening is a simple and painless procedure and with early detection and treatment, it is estimated to prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers.

‘If you are diagnosed early, the outlook will usually be very good, and a complete cure is often possible.'

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Public Health England and Bradford's clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are currently working on joint projects to increase cervical screening uptake across the region.

For more information on cervical screening see here

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