March will see the fifth anniversary of the death from cervical cancer of reality TV star Jade Goody.
Jade was aged just 27 and may well have survived if she had undergone the regular screening tests that detect the disease in its early stages.
Now, NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is working to prevent other needless deaths by supporting Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, which runs from 19 to 25 January to raise awareness of the disease.
Nearly 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the UK yet 20 per cent of women do not take up their invitation for cervical screening.
Dr Sheila Newport, Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said:
“As an organisation that plans and buys healthcare for 525,000 people, we’re urging women who are invited for screening to take up their invitation. This is vital as early-stage cervical cancers don’t usually have symptoms and are generally detected through screening.”
However, there are some recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer:
Dr Newport added:
“For Cervical Cancer Awareness Week 2014, we’re urging women who have experienced any of the symptoms to talk to their GP. It’s important that women talk about the changes in their body and ensure they seek medical attention if necessary.
“Chances are it won’t be cervical cancer but better to get it checked.”
For younger women, there is now a vaccination against the persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that causes changes to the cervical cells and is responsible for nearly all cervical cancers. The vaccine can help prevent 70 per cent of cervical cancers.
In older women, the most effective method of preventing cervical cancer is through the regular cervical screening which happens by invitation and which allows detection of any early changes of the cervix.
Cervical cancer is largely preventable and, if caught early, survival rates are high. The cancer forms in tissues of the cervix - the organ connecting the uterus and vagina. It is not thought to be hereditary.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG represents 57 GP practices and is responsible for the healthcare of 525,000 people. It is one of four clinical commissioning groups in Derbyshire.