Why getting a smear test could save your life

Don’t put off your cervical screening. Having regular smear tests can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer, potentially saving your life.

Are you among the 1 in 4 women in the UK ignoring your invitation to a smear test?1

Don’t put it off. A smear test – now known as a cervical screening – is one of the best ways to avoid developing cervical cancer.2

It’s thought that 98% of cervical cancer cases in the UK are preventable3

Why is a smear test so important?

A smear test checks the health of your cervix. (This is the opening to your womb from your vagina.)

It’s not a test to see whether you have cancer. Rather, it’s a test to see if you have cells that could potentially become cancerous. If you do have any of these abnormal cells, they can be monitored or treated so that they don’t turn into cancer.

Going for regular cervical screenings increases the chance that these cells will be caught early enough that they never become cancerous.2

Who should attend a smear test?

All people who have a cervix should have regular screenings between the ages of 25 and 64 – even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine.

This will be every three years at first, changing to every five years once you’re 50.

You don’t have to wait for an invitation to have a cervical screening. If you have missed your last appointment or you have symptoms that you’re worried about, you can book one in yourself.

If you are at all uncertain about whether you need a screening, speak to your GP.4

Why do people avoid having a smear test?

There is no one reason why people fail to attend cervical screenings. However, one UK study highlighted two of the most common reasons:

1. People are embarrassed to have a smear test

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Don’t let anxiety about your body shape or genitals stop you from attending your smear test.

It may seem awkward to you, but the person performing the test is a professional who deals with these things every day. There is no reason to feel nervous.

Talk to your nurse about any concerns or awkwardness you might have. They are there to make you feel comfortable.5

2. People don’t fully understand the purpose or importance of a smear test

If there was a test that could help prevent cancer, wouldn’t you take it?

In the study, the overwhelming answer to this question was yes. Yet these were the same women who said they did not attend their cervical screening.

Cervical screening prevents 75% of cervical cancers. Smear tests genuinely do save lives.5

Does a smear test hurt?

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No. For most people it’s a bit uncomfortable but not painful.

It’s a very simple procedure that should take about five minutes. The whole appointment will probably only last 10 minutes.2

If you have symptoms you want to get checked out or are overdue a smear test, speak to your registered surgery as soon as possible.

Alternatively, you can find out how to book with BMI Healthcare here.

To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337 or make an online enquiry.

Sources
1https://www.jostrust.org.uk/professionals/health-professionals/increasing-screening-attendance
2https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/
3https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/cervical-cancer#heading-Zero
4https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/when-youll-be-invited/
5https://www.nhs.uk/news/cancer/one-three-women-dont-attend-cervical-screening-because-embarrassment/

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