Local NHS backs #SmearForSmear campaign

NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) Partnership is supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (22–28 January 2018), by encouraging local people to get behind Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust #SmearForSmear campaign to help raise awareness and reduce the risk of cervical cancer, as well as the importance of cervical screening (smear test).

Dr Sarah Forbes is supporting #SmearForSmear

Dr Sarah Forbes, who is a GP in Leeds and a Clinical Lead for Cancer at NHS Leeds CCGs Partnership is backing the awareness week, by taking a selfie with her lipstick smeared across her cheek (photo attached). This is part of the #SmearForSmear campaign which encourages people to share their selfies on social media to remind women to attend their cervical screening test.

Dr Sarah Forbes, GP and a Clinical Lead for Cancer at NHS Leeds CCGs Partnership, said:

“If you’ve been invited for your cervical screening test, I would strongly advise you to book an appointment as soon as possible as the test can help to save your life. The symptoms of cervical cancer aren’t always obvious and may not cause any symptoms at all until it has reached an advanced stage, which is why you must attend your test to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

“Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under, and by backing Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust #SmearForSmear campaign you will be raising awareness of cervical cancer and prevention.

“The screening is offered free on the NHS, it’s important that you’re registered with a GP who must have your current address on file. If you have any concerns about the test, you can speak to your GP or practice nurse, who will be able to answer any questions you may have”.

Figures from Jo’s Cervical Cancer trust suggest that every year around 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK. According to the charity the number of women attending potentially life-saving smear tests is falling. This is a very similar picture in Leeds, as local figures show that there has been a slight fall in the number of women attending their cervical screening. In 2015/16 74.8% of women in Leeds attended their cervical screening test, in 2016/17 74.4% women attended and for 2017/18 74.1% attended. The test prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing but one in four women don’t attend when invited.

Across the whole of the UK women are invited for cervical screening between the ages of 25 and 64. Women aged 25 – 49 are invited every three years and women aged 50 – 64 are invited every five years.

Cervical cancer is not thought to be hereditary. In 99.7% of cases, cervical cancers are caused by persistent infections with a virus called high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a very common virus transmitted through skin to skin contact in the genital area. Around four out of five sexually active adults (80%) will be infected with some type of HPV in their lives. However, for the majority of women this will not result in cervical cancer. While HPV infection is common, cervical cancer is rare.*

There are some recognised symptoms that are linked with cervical cancer. These are:

  • Abnormal bleeding: during or after sexual intercourse, or between periods
  • Post menopausal bleeding: if you are not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or have stopped it for six weeks or more
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse
  • Lower back pain.

If you experience any or all of the above symptoms, or concerned about any new symptom it’s important that you make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible. To find out more about the cervical cancer screening programme please visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-cancer