Cervical cancer is something that, as a woman, scares me terrifically. Unfortunately, there is a long history in my family of the women having pre-cancerous cells and requiring treatment. Some have even had to have hysterectomy’s because of the continuous pre-cancerous cells detected.
Did you know that 300,000 UK women are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities each year and every day 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3 women lose their lives?
I first got called up for my smear at the age of 21. It had been 6 months since I gave birth to my first child and despite not really wanting to go, I did because I knew I had to, for myself and my child.
The experience wasn’t entirely pleasant – but it wasn’t horrific either. It’s uncomfortable, but not painful. I have been having a smear every 3 years since, and fortunately all have been clear.
Did you know that 5 million UK women are invited to cervical screening each year. It is estimated that the UK Cervical Screening Programmes save 5,000 lives annually?
When Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust got in touch about their #SmearForSmear campaign, I wanted to get involved. I admit, I’m not entirely sure how smearing makeup can help raise awareness of cervical cancer, but awareness needs to be raised about women going for smear tests regularly (and personally, I would like to see the age limit lowered from 25 to 16 – or as soon as a woman is sexually active).
So what is the campaign actually about? Here’s more information from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Smear campaign against cervical cancer launches as over one million women fail to attend screening
- 1 in 3 young women aged 25-29 fail to attend screening when invited
- Over a quarter of young women delay screening because they worry the test will be painful or embarrassing
- 20% of young women think cervical screening is an unnecessary health test
The UK’s only dedicated cervical cancer charity is calling on women (and men) to join #smearforsmear – a campaign which aims to help reverse the downward trend in numbers of women attending their smear test (cervical screening) and in so doing stop the rise in numbers of women diagnosed with the disease.
Launched at the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (CCPW, 25th – 31st January 2015), Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is asking the public to smear lipstick across their face, snap a picture for social media and remind their friends of the importance of smear tests.
Currently in the UK 1 in 5 women fail to attend screening when invited – a test that detects abnormal cells on the cervix before they develop into cancer – and this number rises to 1 in 3 for young women aged 25-29 who are the first age group to be invited. In fact 36.7% of 25-29 year olds in England failed to attend screening when invited last year. Worryingly the most recent figures in numbers diagnosed show a rise from 352 cases in 2010 to 427 cases reported in the UK in 2011.
A survey by the charity has revealed some of the reasons young women give for delaying attendance include seeing cervical screening as an unnecessary health test (20%), concerns it would be painful (26.2%) and embarrassing (26.6%).
The charity is also concerned about the general lack of knowledge surrounding the test amongst younger women. Over half (56%) of this age group didn’t identify the cause of the disease as the human papillomavirus (HPV). One in ten thought it was a test for sexually transmitted infections and 13.5% thought it was a test for Ovarian cancer. Giving a voice to cervical cancer prevention is also vital as 48% said they never openly discuss smear tests with their friends or family.
Robert Music, Chief Executive for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “Every day we see the devastating impact a cervical cancer diagnosis can have on both a woman and her loved ones. But to know that for those that delayed their screening before diagnosis, this could have been prevented, is tragic. It’s now time that we see a shift in awareness of cervical cancer and an understanding of the importance of smear tests.
“We hope the public get fully behind this fun and simple campaign. The more women who take this life saving five-minute test, the fewer who will face infertility, early menopause, more extensive long-term effects and potentially even loss of life. It’s time we all acted as it may just save a life.”
How to share your lipstick smear
- Apply your lipstick, smear it across your cheek and take a photo
- Tag #smearforsmear and @JoTrust in your message.
- Add the names of the people you want to nominate
Example tweet: Help prevent cervical cancer w/ @JoTrust. Attend your smear, reduce your risk. Join me @xxxx #smearforsmear
- Post onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
Here’s my #SmearForSmear selfie:
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (www.jostrust.org.uk) is the UK’s only dedicated charity offering support and information to women of all ages and their loved ones affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. The National Helpline is on 0808 802 8000.
 Cervical Screening Programme, England 2013-14, Published by HSCIC, November 25th 2014
 Censuswide on behalf of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, with 1,012 women aged 25-29 during 6th-12th December 2013. Surveys were conducted from a random sample of a representative panel across the UK.