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Penningtons Manches underlines the importance of cervical screening in preventing cancer

Posted: 14/06/2018

Cervical Screening Awareness Week runs from Monday 11 June to Sunday 17 June 2018. Its aim is to ensure that every eligible person is aware of the availability and opportunity to attend cervical screening.

A study carried out by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust last year revealed that one in six women could not name a single function of the cervix and over 40% of people studied were unable to correctly identify the cervix as the neck of the womb. This knowledge deficit is more shocking in light of the fact that every day in the UK two women pass away as a result of cervical cancer. It is the most common form of cancer in women under the age of 35 in the UK.

Cervical screening, also known as a smear test, is therefore an incredibly important tool to detect early cancers and studies show that it prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing. Regrettably, many eligible people do not attend for screening, either because of inaccessibility, or a lack of understanding of its purpose. 

The cervical screening programme

The goal of awareness days such as this is to inform women  of the importance of their cervical health and the instrumental role that routine screening plays in protecting against cervical cancer.

The aim of the NHS cervical screening programme is to reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and those who die from the condition.

All women who are registered with a GP are invited for the screening. Some age groups are more vulnerable to cervical cancer and they are invited to attend more often: 

  • aged 25 to 49 – every three years;
  • aged 50 to 64 – every five years;
  • over 65 – only women who have not been screened since age 50, or those who have recently had abnormal tests 

Regular screening aims to identify any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix at an early stage and, if necessary, should result in an onward referral for treatment to prevent cancer developing.

Frankie Rhodes, an associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, says: “I know, even amongst my own peer group, that many young women avoid responding to screening invitations or try to put off arranging an appointment for a smear test. I think there are a number of people who don’t understand how important cervical screening is and procrastinate out of fear of experiencing pain or embarrassment during the examination.

“I recall Jade Goody, who was a popular public figure, passing away from cervical cancer in March 2009 at the same age I am now, 27. She had precancerous cells removed from her cervix at age 16 but when she was urged to come back for follow-up care due to another abnormal smear test, she did nothing because she was afraid of going back into hospital. This highlights the importance of giving our support to awareness days such as this one, so that people can be better informed about the reasons why cervical screening must be carried out and results acted upon. Increased awareness will save lives and the first step is to be proactive about our own health and do what we can to reduce our risks of developing the disease.”

How to get involved

  • join the conversation by engaging on social media using the hashtag #SmearTestsSaveLives to address the difficulties some people face;
  • hold an awareness stall at your surgery, workplace or sports centre;
  • organise your own fundraising event to help continue work to make cervical screening accessible;
  • tell your story to help us spread the word about cervical cancer and prevention;
  • contact your MP/AM/MSP to let them know about the barriers to cervical screening and recommendations to improve access.

How can we help?

Although it is vital for individuals to attend cervical screening, the test is not 100% accurate and it does not prevent all cases of cervical cancer developing. Unfortunately, errors in care do also occur which can have devastating consequences.

Penningtons Manches' clinical negligence team represents patients who have experienced issues such as misread test results, delays in diagnosis of cancer and inappropriate advice on treatment options. The team is happy to provide initial advice and have an informal, no obligation, chat with anyone who has concerns about the care they have received in relation to diagnosis and management of any type of cancer. Please call freephone 0800 328 9545 or email for further information.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP