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Cervical Cancer- what you need to know

Article by Fabafterfifty

 Five  Fabulous celebrity women give their thoughts on cervical screening – what we used to know as the ‘smear test’.

1. There are almost 2,800 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year in the UK and nearly half of these are over 50 years old. 

2. In England women aged 25 to 49 are invited for screening every 3 years, and screening continues every 5 years for women aged 50 to 64.

3. The key early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer:
• Any unusual bleeding from the vagina particularly
o After sex
o After the menopause when your periods have stopped
• Persistent vaginal discharge that is blood stained or smells unpleasant
Five fabulous The Eve Appeal celebrity supporters speak out to encourage women to talk more about matters gynaecological, as overcoming embarrassment about cervical cancer screening (smear tests) – could help save a woman’s life.

Get over the embarrassment …

As our five fabulous women agree, having a smear test is not the most pleasant experience. But pre-cancerous cell changes don’t usually have any symptoms, which is why it is so important to go for screenings regularly.

If there are signs of abnormal cells, treating them is usually simple and prevents cancer developing.

• Lorraine Kelly speaks for most women when she says, “No one likes having it.  It’s a horrible thing to go through. It’s your bits. You don’t want to be getting interfered with – in any way.” However, she insists on going for a smear test every 2-3 years and strongly believes that it’s something you should never put off, that you should always do.

• Gail Porter, who always goes for her smear test – ‘bang, like clockwork’ – when called, neatly sums up women’s options: “You’ve always got to think – this could save my life. Do you want to be embarrassed and save your life or be embarrassed, not go and maybe get cervical cancer?”

• Helen Lederer, comedienne thinks “it is difficult to have any kind of investigative stuff going on ‘down there’.  But I find it a miracle that some kind of mystifying admin somewhere calls me to have the smear, and I trot off…”

• Jenny Éclair, comedienne, sympathises “There’s always a moment when you get the letter and you think – oh, I’m sweating here….. but you’ve just got to go”

• Mary Tamm of Dr Who fame, agrees that “a smear test is not a very pleasant experience”, but
adds, “I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac so naturally I’ve gone for every test possible”.

The Eve Appeal raises funds for the work of the Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre at UCL and raises awareness of gynaecological cancers.  To read the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer or other gynaecological cancers visit www.eveappeal.org.uk

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Sue France

    May 13, 2011

    You do well highlighting this for over fifties but also ask the over fifties to make sure their daughters have their smears too.
    My daughter died from this 10 years ago this weekend age 27. She had a suspect smear so went back for a 2nd one which came back clear with the message to get retested in 3 years.The 2nd result must have been faulty because strangely enough she then had the symptoms and was diagnosed 3 months later. We were told her cancer cells were located higher than the smear test. I believe tests are more accurate now.

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      May 13, 2011

      Sue, thank you so much for sharing this. First of all I am so sorry for your loss. Mothers play an important role in supporting their daughters, and we do have further articles planned on this so that early detection can become the norm.

  2. Karen

    May 24, 2011

    I seem to remember having my first smear test at around 22yrs . When and why did the starting age change? Was it a scientific or financial based decision?

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