As we are navigate our way through our third lockdown in ten months, the upheaval thrust upon us by coronavirus is becoming all too familiar.
The overwhelming demand on the NHS is reported daily in the news and many of us have had personal experience of routine medical appointments or procedures being cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. Cervical smears are no exception. It has been reported that thousands of appointments have been cancelled since April 2020.
More worryingly, a cervical cancer charity has seen an increase in the number of women calling its helpline. It reports that 25% of women surveyed are worried that they will catch coronavirus from attending a screening appointment, and 13% felt that it was best to put off their appointment due to the increased demand on the NHS.
Smears are offered every three years to women between the ages of 25 and 49 and five yearly thereafter until age 64. They are vital when it comes to diagnosing cervical cancer at an early stage thus, affording women the best chance of life saving treatment. It is imperative that women continue to attend screening when invited to do so. The medical professionals will be wearing full PPE and, of course, as frontline workers it is planned that they will be one of the first groups to be offered the coronavirus vaccination. If an appointment has been cancelled, or postponed, please follow this up so that it is not missed completely.
Early cervical cancers usually don’t have symptoms, and this is why screening is so important. As the cancer progresses, symptoms could include unusual vaginal bleeding, pain or discomfort during sex, vaginal discharge or pain the pelvic area. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms; please contact your GP without delay. Routine screening is aimed at women without symptoms but if you are suffering with symptoms you should contact your GP immediately; don’t wait for your next screening invite.