Women's Health Series: Cervical Cancer

In this four-part blog series we are highlighting important topics that can have an impact on women's health and wellbeing: cervical cancer, the menstrual cycle, contraception and some interesting science about the female orgasm!

Cervical cancer

Normally affecting women between the ages of 30 to 45, the most likely cause of cervical cancer is a virus called HPV that is spread through sexual contact and skin-to-skin contact of genitals.

Since 2019, all 12- and 13-year-olds are offered the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine on the NHS, which protects against cancers caused by HPV, including cervical cancer.

Early onset cervical cancer doesn’t have many symptoms, however later on the most common is abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Cervical screening

Diagnosing cervical cancer is done via cervical screening, also known as a smear test, offered every 3 years to women between the ages of 25 - 49 and every 5 years to women over 50.

However, 1 in 4 women skip their cervical screening, despite nearly 900 women dying every year from cervical cancer.

The smear test normally takes less than five minutes to complete and is usually carried out by a female nurse or doctor. A small sample of cells is taken from the cervix, which is done by firstly inserting a speculum (a smooth, cyclindrical tool) into the vagina with the help of a small amount of lube. Once inserted, the speculum will be opened so that the cervix can be visually assessed and in order to get a small cell sample with the use of a soft brush.

Women's health related AnatomyStuff resources

Diseased Uterus and Ovaries Model
Budget Pelvis Model with Organs and Pelvic Floor Muscles
Female Reproductive System Chart / Poster

 

Further reading / sources

Cervical cancer
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-cancer/
Cervical screening
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/what-happens-at-your-appointment/

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