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Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Don't ignore your cervical screening invite and book your appointment today. This could help save your life.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

PROMOTING Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

To mark Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, we are supporting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in its campaign to move towards a future where cervical cancer is a thing of the past by highlighting the importance of cervical screening. Regular cervical screening, which only takes a few minutes, can help prevent cervical cancer by checking for a virus called high-risk HPV and cervical cell changes. However, the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, England 2022-2023 annual report shows that 3 in 10 of those eligible for screening do not take up their screening invite. It's time to change that. We encourage all people even if they’ve had the HPV vaccine to attend their cervical screening when they are invited to do so. This could help save someone's life.

ABOUT cervical cancer

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way. The cervix, a part of the female reproductive system, is the opening between the vagina and the womb (uterus).

Every day in the UK, 2 women lose their lives to cervical cancer and 9 more receive a life-changing diagnosis.

- Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust

What is the cause of cervical cancer?

The main cause of cervical cancer is a virus called high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). It is very common and most sexually active people come into contact with HPV during their lifetime. Usually, the body’s immune system gets rid of the infection naturally and the virus does not cause any damage. While most types of HPV are harmless, some high-risk types can lead to the development of cervical cancer. In order to reduce the number of HPV infections and lower the rates of cervical cancer, the national HPV vaccination programme was introduced in 2008. The vaccine is currently offered to all children aged 12 to 13 and people at higher risk from HPV. You can find out more about the HPV vaccination on the NHS website.

What are the symptoms?

Early cervical cancer doesn't usually have symptoms, that's why it's so important to attend regular cervical screening. The most common symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • vaginal bleeding that’s unusual for you - between periods, during or after sex, or after the menopause

  • pain or discomfort during sex

  • pain in your lower back or between your hip bones (pelvis)

  • changes to your vaginal discharge

For more information, have a look at 'Understanding Cervical Cancer' booklet from Macmillan Cancer Support which explains the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, and how it is diagnosed and treated. It also has information about emotional, practical and financial issues.

The NHS Screening programme

Cervical screening appointment

The NHS cervical screening programme in England is offered to people with a cervix aged from 25 to 64. You'll get a letter in the post inviting you to make an appointment and your invitation letter will tell you where you can go for cervical screening and how to book it. How often you are invited depends on your age:


When you're invited

Under 25

Up to 6 months before you turn 25

25 to 49

Every 3 years

50 to 64

Every 5 years

65 or older

Only if a recent test was abnormal

You should try to book your appointment as soon as you get invited. If you missed your last cervical screening, you do not need to wait for a letter to book an appointment.

"(...) It is vital that people take up the offer of a test – so if you have received an invitation, or missed your last screening, don’t wait to make an appointment, put your health first and book an appointment with your GP practice or sexual health clinic today – getting checked can save your life."

The cervical screening programme is different in some other parts of the UK. Find out more:

Screening involves taking a small sample of cells from the cervix and looking for high-risk HPV that could develop into cancer if left untreated. The cervical screening test is usually done by a female nurse or doctor and it should take less than 5 minutes.

Do you have questions or concerns about cervical screening? In this NHS video, Dr Bavalia from The Royal London Hospital answers the most frequently asked questions about cervical screening:

You can also have a look at Understanding Cervical Screening booklet from Macmillan Cancer Support which explains what cervical screening involves and what your test results mean. It also has information about the most common abnormal result, called cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN).

getting support

If you have questions or concerns about HPV, the HPV vaccine, cervical screening, cervical cancer, or just want to talk to someone, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust provides a wide range of support services. You can call their helpline on 0808 802 8000, join one of the Let's Meet events, get one-to-one support, or join the online forum where you can share your experience with others.




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