Don’t ignore your cervical screening invitation – it could save your life

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Monday, June 20th, 2016
Community
With an average of 105 women diagnosed with cervical cancer and 24 women dying from the disease each year in Northern Ireland, it is important for women to accept their invitation for a screening test. cervicalThe Public Health Agency (PHA) is therefore reminding women during Cervical Screening Awareness Week (13-19 June 2016) to take up the invitation and have a regular cervical screening test – it could literally save your life. Dr Tracy Owen, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said, “Cervical screening is offered to women aged 25–49 every three years, and 50–64 year olds every five years in Northern Ireland. “Screening aims to prevent cancer from occurring in the first place, by checking for pre-cancerous changes in the cells lining the cervix. Any early changes can then be successfully treated. “Many women will feel nervous about going for their screening test, especially if it is their first time. They may be worried about the actual process of having the test, as well as the results. These worries can put some women off attending at all. “The PHA has produced a video showing women how simple the process is, which will hopefully reassure them that it is not something to be too anxious about.” The video covers the whole process of screening – from receiving the invitation letter to getting the results. It is aimed at women who have been invited for the first time and those who have never had a screening test.
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May June 2016 updatedWomen are invited to make an appointment with their GP practice for a screening test from the age of 25. There are 483,000 women in Northern Ireland who are eligible to participate in the cervical screening programme, and 77% of these have had a screening test in the last five years. Attending for screening test each time you receive your invitation remains the best way of significantly reducing your risk of developing cervical cancer. It is estimated that in a well-screened population, four out of five cervical cancers can be prevented. Dr Owen continued, “I would strongly encourage all women, particularly those who have just been invited for screening for the first time, to see it as a positive step in looking after their health. The test only takes a few minutes and is usually carried out by a nurse. “This is one of the few cancers that is preventable, so it is important for women to get screened when they are invited to do so – it could literally save their life.” Women of any age who are concerned about symptoms such as abnormal bleeding, or pain or discomfort in the lower pelvis, should seek advice from their GP. The cervical screening video can be viewed at: www.cancerscreening.hscni.net

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