Brinkmann Gynaecology

Preventative action against cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is not a common cancer but because the majority occur in young women, the impact on families can be devastating.

The good news is that cervical cancer is largely preventable by following three key guidelines: 

-  get vaccinated

-  get screened and 

-  don’t smoke

The HPV vaccine
This protects against the types of HPV (human papilloma virus) that most often cause cervical, vaginal and vulval cancers.  All 12–13-year-old girls in the UK are now offered a HPV vaccination as it is best given to girls before puberty and having sex.  However, since it does not protect against all types of HPV, it is still important to attend cervical screening.

Cervical screening
Cervical screening enables the early detection of abnormal cells in the cervix and decreases your chance of developing cervical cancer by 90%.  Most positive tests show pre-cancerous changes rather than fully developed cancer and are therefore easier to treat and cure. Women are advised to attend screening from the age of 25 until 64.  But remember, smear tests don't screen for cancers of the ovary, uterus or fallopian tubes so it's important to be aware of any other unusual changes to your body.

Smoking doubles your risk of developing cervical cancer and can make it harder to treat abnormal cells.

An abridged version of this article will appear in The Village (West Sussex) in January 2013