Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, a European-wide initiative to promote awareness of the disease and promote the uptake of prevention programmes, starts on Monday, 20 January 2014. Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in women aged 35 and under. Despite the availability of preventative measures such as the HPV vaccine and cervical smears, more than 3,000 women in the UK will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly 1,000 women will die from the disease over the next 12 months.
In spite of these high death rates, research commissioned by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust found that 36% of women aged 25-29 questioned had failed to attend a cervical screening test in 2012-13, with some citing worries about pain or embarrassment as factors. The Trust also revealed that one in five women of all ages missed tests each year, with some taking years to catch up.
Clinical negligence solicitors at law firm Penningtons Manches have handled numerous cases involving late diagnosis of cervical cancer, often where the failure to attend for cervical smears or missing key signs and symptoms are factors. Guy Forster, clinical negligence partner, said: “Cervical cancer remains one of the most preventable and curable types of cancer, yet we are continuing to see clients whose outcomes would have been much better if they had attended for regular smears or they or health professionals had spotted the warning signs of the disease. We fully support the initiative to raise awareness of cervical cancer and promote understanding of the options for women to take charge of their own health through screening and other prevention programmes.” For more information, visit Jo's Trust.
J, a 28 year old mother, started to suffer vaginal bleeding and pain. She had always attended for her routine cervical smears and her last smear 18 months earlier had been reported as normal.
She consulted her GP and reported her concerns but no examination was performed. Her symptoms continued and she saw a different GP in her practice who in turn referred her to a gynaecologist, although for a non-urgent appointment. When her appointment came through some months later, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. By that stage the cancer had advanced and she required much more invasive treatment, leaving her with long term internal damage which, it was alleged, would have been avoided had she been referred by her GP as an emergency to the gynaecologist at the outset.