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Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

This week (18th – 24th Jan) is cervical cancer prevention week. Aiming to raise awareness of the risks of cervical cancer, and help people to learn about how to reduce these risks to prevent the illness. With around 3,200 new cervical cancer cases in the UK every year, it’s so important to understand the preventative measures you can take to help stop this illness. It is important that you attend a cervical screening when invited as well as encouraging others to do so; even if you don’t have any symptoms, so any problems can be found early. If you are aged between 11-18, or have family members or friends who are, it is vital that take the HPV vaccine when offered to you; this will help to prevent you developing the condition later in life. It is also important to recognise any symptoms for cervical cancer, and to seek medical advice if you are experiencing any.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding – this includes after sex, between periods or after menopause
  • Pain during sex
  • Unusual/unpleasant vaginal discharge

If you have advanced cervical cancer, symptoms may include:

  • Severe pain in your side/back caused by your kidneys
  • Pain in your back/pelvis
  • Constipation
  • Going to the toilet more often (either urinating or defecating)
  • Losing control of your bladder or bowels
  • Blood in your pee
  • Swelling of one/both legs
  • Severe vaginal bleeding
Unusual vaginal bleeding is usually the first warning sign for cervical cancer, although there are many other possible causes for this. No matter how mild you think your unusual vaginal bleeding is, it is important to get it checked out by your GP. If you do have cervical cancer, then the earlier you catch it the higher your chances of recovery. If precancerous cells are detected in a smear test, it is possible to prevent 75% of cancers from developing and it is estimated that smear tests save 5,000 lives a year. If you would like more information visit the NHS cervical cancer page or the Grace charity site