Reported widely this week was the case of Dawn Weston, a young woman who died and who was refused screening because she wasjust 24 and screening is offered only for over 25 year olds. It is not common, but it does happen, earlier this year in March a 19 year old, Sophie Jones, also died after being refused screening. The UK National Screening Programme estimates that screening can save up to 5,000 lives per year although sadly 1 in 5 women fail to attend screening when invited.
Dame Dr Shirley Bond has commented “It’s a ridiculous rule! Surely smears should start at the age a woman starts to be sexually active. I know we are read by menopausal women but they have daughters and grand daughters.”
Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix (also known as the neck of the womb) which connects a woman’s womb and her vagina. It can affect women of all ages but is most common in women between 30 – 45 years of age, though clearly although rare it does occur in younger women. It is a largely preventable disease through screening, and in the future most cervical cancers will be prevented by HPV vaccination, but for the next few decades, cervical screening will still be vitally important.
What are the symptoms?
The earlier cervical cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome will be, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms.
The key early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer are:
- any unusual bleeding from the vagina particularly after sex
- bleeding after menopause when your periods have stopped
- persistent vaginal discharge that is blood stained or smells unpleasant
Even if you have had a normal screening result or been vaccinated against HPV, it’s important to let your doctor know if you develop any of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer so they can be checked out.
Hormone balance is essential from puberty to post-menopause and excess oestrogen, oestrogen dominance, is linked to many cancers including cervical cancer. Balancing with the beneficial opposing effects of progesterone would be a very good place to start.
The Eve Appeal is a gynaecological cancer charity set up to raise funds for and awareness of all five gynaecological cancers and their website has information and resources here: