Put Cervical Screening Test on Your ‘To Do’ List

Cervical Screening imageA Cervical Screening Week took place from June 8 – 14 and NHS Western Isles used the week as an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of attending your smear test.Every day women across the Western Isles make lists of things to do and NHS Western Isles reminded them to add this one particular task to their list.All women aged 20 – 60 across Scotland are invited to have a free, quick, cervical screening test every three years, yet some never take up their appointment.

But I don’t have any symptoms, should I still go?

Cervical screening tests are for women who have no symptoms. You can look and feel perfectly healthy and still have changes in your cervix. This is why it is extremely important to go for regular cervical screening tests. Some changes found by cervical screening may give an early warning sign of developing cervical cancer. By dealing with this at an early stage, many cervical cancers can be stopped before they even start.Women aged 20-35 years are the most persistent defaulters and the biggest group never to have had a smear.Research carried out in 2012 into barriers to uptake identified three main reasons for reduced rates of cervical screening uptake, particularly amongst women between 20-35 years – fear, pain and embarrassment.Whilst it can be a slightly uncomfortable or embarrassing process for some women, please remember that your doctor or nurse carries out the test on a regular basis, so there is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you would prefer, you can make an appointment for a smear test with the Family Planning Clinic at Western Isles Hospital.

How long does it take?

The screening appointment only takes five minutes and, whilst it can be a slightly uncomfortable or embarrassing process for some women, please remember that your doctor or nurse does the test on a regular basis and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Tell your doctor or nurse if you are feeling anxious and they will be happy to talk through any concerns.

What does cervical screening test for?

Screening provides a test for early identification of changes in cells in the cervix (neck of the womb) so that they can be simply and effectively treated. The screening test saves around 5000 lives in the UK every year and has prevented eight out of 10 cervical cancers from developing.

Cervical Screening Test: Put it on your list leaflets are available in healthcare and community settings, and on-line at www.healthscotland.com/screening.aspx

The key message is: you’re not alone in feeling a bit nervous about a smear test, and it’s absolutely natural to feel that way – but the longer you put off having a smear, the more anxious you’re likely to become. It’s only five minutes, and it could be the most important thing you do.