Cervical Screening Awareness Week: 14 – 20 June 2021

To mark Cervical Screening Awareness Week, NAWP is taking the opportunity to highlight the importance of cervical screening to all pharmacists at the frontline of healthcare. NAWP also urges employers to support their staff members’ health and wellbeing against the backdrop of delays in screening.

Tue 15th June 2021 The PDA

The aim of Cervical Screening Awareness Week is to encourage women and people with a cervix to have regular cervical screenings. Cervical screening is a test to prevent cancer. It looks for conditions that may lead to cervical cancer, which can be detected years before cancer develops.

Statistical data indicates that 99.8% of cervical cancer cases are preventable, saving 3,000 lives a year, yet many people are reluctant to take this test, with a quarter of women not following up on their screening invitation. At a cervical screening (previously known as a ‘smear test’) appointment, a nurse takes a sample of cells from the cervix using a small, soft brush. The test only takes a few minutes.

The symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious, and it might not cause any discomfort at all until it has reached an advanced stage. In most cases, the first noticeable symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively.

Women are usually born with a cervix. Transgender men, non-binary and intersex people may also have one. All people with a cervix are at risk of cervical cancer regardless of their age, with the incidence rate being highest in females aged 30-34.

Earlier this year, NAWP produced a factsheet to mark Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2021, which provides useful information about symptoms, addresses the importance of screening and early diagnosis, and urges employers to find solutions to allow employees to attend a life-saving cervical screening if they are unable to get appointments outside of working hours.

Ayah Abbass, NAWP Member and Community Pharmacist said: “Lots of people don’t go for cervical screening because they are fearful, and it can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable procedure, but we need to break that barrier as it is vitally important – it saves lives.”

Ian Welford, a PDA Rep in Boots, is keen to promote cervical screening for women, and has this direct message to all people seeking more information from pharmacist professionals: “Early detection saves lives and allows fast treatments to cure the problem before it develops into cancer. For your own health and that of your family and colleagues, prevent this from becoming an issue for you…you know it makes sense!”

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