What’s pants… but could save your life?

What's Pants posterEvery day women across the Western Isles are making lists of things to do and NHS Western Isles is reminding them to add one particular life-saving 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.

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.

GP, Western Isles Health Protection Team, Dr Louise Scott said: “Cervical screening saves lives, it’s as simple as that. We want to encourage as many women as possible to go for their cervical screening test by putting it on their list of things to do.”

Every year in Scotland more than 300,000 women are invited for screening and a small proportion of them do not take up the invitation. Ignoring the invitation leaves women unprotected from the early signs of cervical cancer. 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.

NHS Western Isles is recommending women with questions or concerns to have a look at one of the four excellent leaflets available:

  • The Cervical Screening Test: Put it on your list – sent with the screening invitation
  • The Cervical Screening Test: Your First Test – for those being invited for the first time
  • The Cervical Screening Test: Information for Lesbian and Bisexual Women – to address specific questions considered by lesbian and bisexual women
  • The Cervical Screening Test: Your Results Explained – sent with screening results and designed to explain test results and what to expect as follow up.

The Cervical Screening Test: Put it on your list leaflets are sent to women eligible for screening, along with their invitation and are available in healthcare and community settings, and on-line at www.healthscotland.com/screening.aspx

Martin Malcolm, NHS Western Isles Interim Cervical and Breast Screening Coordinator, said: “Cervical cancer is a largely preventable disease. Thankfully, women in the Western Isles have a good record in attending for their cervical smear test but there are a small number of women who fail to take up the potentially life-saving opportunity to attend cervical screening.

“Cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives every year in the UK and prevents eight out of 10 cervical cancers from developing, and regular screening is your best protection against cervical cancer. We are therefore particularly keen to reach those women who do not attend regular appointments. Anyone with concerns is of course more than welcome to contact myself or a member of their local GP practice team.”