Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix, which is the entrance to the womb from the vagina, and it occurs when the cells that line the cervix start to grow abnormally. Early detection and treatment can help prevent the majority of cancers developing.
Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in the earlier stages. The most common symptoms are abnormal vaginal bleeding, often during or after sex or in between your periods. You may also experience discomfort during sex, vaginal discharge and pain in the pelvic area. There are many other common medical conditions that can also cause these symptoms, but you should seek medical advice if you’re experiencing these problems.
Cervical cancer mainly affects sexually active women, aged between 30 and 45, and screening is no longer available on the NHS for women between the ages of 18 and 25. If you are in this age group or any age and experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, then cervical screening can rule out this type of cancer.
When should I schedule a smear test?
We would recommend avoiding having a smear test performed if any of the following relate to you:
- If you are on your period
- Experiencing vaginal bleeding
- You have had an IUD inserted or removed within the past 3 months
- You have had a smear test performed previously within the past 12 weeks
- You are pregnant or think you may be
- You have given birth, miscarried or had a termination within the past 3 months
What happens if you receive an abnormal result?
Abnormal smear test results are not uncommon and it doesn’t necessarily mean you are at risk of developing cervical cancer. If necessary, you will be referred for a colposcopy where the cervix will be closely examined, and a biopsy taken. If abnormal cells are found, they can be removed before they turn malignant.
What is the HPV test for cervical cancer?
Abnormal smear test results are often the result of a very common virus known as HPV that is transmitted through sexual contact. At SureScan, we can offer you a combined HPV test and smear test to ensure peace of mind.