Cervical Cancer Prevention Week
Sometimes in life there are things we don’t want to do or never get around to doing. Perhaps we justify it with lack of time or maybe that there are simply more pressing matters. Or maybe it’s simply something you’re too embarrassed to do or are afraid of doing it.
One of these things is Cervical Screening, previously known as the ‘Smear Test’.
Surveys show that embarrassment about body shape is a reason for non-attendance in between a third and one half of women surveyed and each year in the UK we see 3,200 women diagnosed with cervical cancer and almost 900 women dying annually.
So what is the Cervical Screening Test? Why is it important? How can employers help and why should men be talking about cervical screening?
What is the Cervical Screening Test?
The test itself does not specifically look for cancer, but abnormal cells within the cervix. If left unchecked these cells could become cancerous.
The test takes just 5 minutes in which a Doctor or a Nurse will use a speculum to hold open the walls of the Vagina so the Cervix can be seen. A small soft brush is used to collect some cells from the surface of the Cervix. Whilst this can be uncomfortable and/or embarrassing, for most women it is a short, painless experience.
Why is the Cervical Screening Test important?
The test is the best way to detect abnormal changes before they become cancerous. The majority of the women diagnosed with cervical cancer had delayed coming forward for screening, where potentially, abnormal changes could have been caught early and treated.
How can I reduce the risk of Cervical Cancer?
The best thing you can do is attend your Cervical Screening Test when it is time to do so. The NHS recommend this as your first priority. They also offer a vaccine against 4 types of the HPV virus (including 2 strains that are responsible for the majority of cancers in the UK). Further to this, avoiding smoking and practicing safe sex can also help reduce the chances of cervical cancer.
Why Should Men be talking about Cervical Screening?
For a number of reasons but mainly, to help raise awareness of the importance of Cervical Screening and also, to help protect those that they love.
Sports Broadcaster Ali Maxwell recently spoke about losing his mother at just age six and the impact it had upon his life.
How can employers help their employees with Cervical Screening?
Employers can play a key role in ensuring that their employees are able to attend screenings. This can help those who cannot make appointments out of work hours.
For employers who wish to raise awareness and promote Cervical Screening Tests within their businesses, they can also sign up to the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trusts’ “Time To Test” campaign.
To offer further re-assurance for this and other health-related issues, employers might want to consider offering their employees Private Medical Insurance or Life Insurance. Whilst this is not a substitute for Cervical Screening, it works alongside it. This grants employees, who may have had a Cervical Screening Test, access to private healthcare should their results show further investigation is required.
You can also help raise awareness by sharing a #SmearForSmear selfie on social media. Find out more on the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website.
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