AS part of this year’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Week from June 10 to 16, Dorset-based charity GO Girls are urging women not to risk a diagnosis of cervical cancer by avoiding a screening test.
Dr Emma Crosbie, a member of the GO Girls Clinical Advisory Team, has been undertaking some exciting research at the University of Manchester.
Dr Crosbie recognises that whilst the so-called ‘Jade Goody effect’ had a significant impact in uptake of screening, after the reality TV star died of cervical cancer aged just 27 in 2009, this has not been sustained.
The research, supported by Manchester NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, has been looking at urine testing.
“Picking up the pre-cancerous stage is critical to cervical cancer prevention, whether this is by cervical smears, self-collected vaginal samples and urine testing to assess for high risk HPV – the causative agent,” said Dr Crosbie.
“Cervical cancer is most common in women 30-35, but equally the precancerous stage can be picked up some five to 10 years previously with one in 20 women showing abnormal changes. Failing to attend screening is potentially putting you at considerable risk.”
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide and one of the most preventable, thanks to the introduction of the cervical screening programme, but this has reached a 20-year low in screening uptake.
Treatment for the disease is radical and may involve a hysterectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These treatments can have severe impacts on women’s quality of life, affecting bowel and urinary function as well as sexuality.
This year, GO Girls, who support women with gynaecological cancers, is the chosen charity of the Bridport branch of solicitors Porter Dodson. The team is working hard to raise funds to support an animation targeted at younger women to encourage the importance of attending cervical screening.
Amy Mowlam, legal advisor at Porter Dodson, said: “Our office is mostly young women – we all feel passionately about educating girls and young women on the importance of screening.
“We hope that the success of our animation will be shown in schools across the county, and country, to tell young girls that as they leave school and walk out to create a path in life, protecting your gynaecological health is an important part of your life plan – we are very excited to be supporting such an important project.”
Hilary Maxwell, chairman of GO Girls, added: “In 99.7% of cases, cervical cancers are caused by persistent infections with a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). We are now vaccinating against high risk types of this virus, which is helping in disease prevention but screening is still required.
“A 5-minute test has to be preferable to a cervical cancer, surely; a disease that may affect younger women who may have young children. Most mothers want to be there for their children and we want them to be too, so much better to take five minutes to prevent a cancer than crossing your legs and hoping this will never happen,”
For more information about GO Girls or to donate, visit www.gogirlssupport.org