Cervical cancer screening plea to women in Norfolk

Women in Norwich are being urged to not to ignore their invitation for cervical screening.

Every year almost 3,000 women in the country are diagnosed with cervical cancer, which is why NHS Norfolk and Waveney is urging women to make sure they do have a 'smear test' when invited.

Fiona Kelly, screening programmes lead, said: 'The symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious and it may not cause any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage.

'Women are asked to take note of any unexpected changes in their own menstrual cycle and to see their doctor if they have unusual bleeding - particularly after intercourse or if they have not had a period for 12 months or more.

'However, when it is diagnosed early, cancer of the cervix can usually be successfully treated - this is why it is so important that women take up the offer of a having a free cervical sample taken when they receive an invitation from the NHS (the familiar 'smear' test).

'The cervical screening sample will also identify any viruses that make some women more likely to develop cell changes which may lead to cancer in the future. This makes it even more important to have the routine test so that, if it is found that a woman is more likely to develop cancer, then she will be offered an appropriate surveillance programme.

'Women are invited for cervical screening when they reach 25 years and then every three years until the age of 50. Between the ages of 50 - 64 women will be invited to a screening every five years.

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'The cervical screening process is routine and women are encouraged to attend their GP to have the test carried out by an experienced and qualified practice nurse.'

Next week is European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and more information is available at www.ecca.info.

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