If you have a cervix, you can get cervical cancer. This includes transmasculine people who have kept their cervix after surgery.
Every year in the UK, around 3,000 people will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under.
It is not thought to be hereditary. In most cases, cervical cancers are caused by persistent infections with a very common virus known as HPV. Around four out of five sexually active adults will be infected with some type of HPV in their lives. HPV infection is common but cervical cancer is rare.
Women aged 25-64 are invited for regular screening of their cervix (smear test) if they are registered with a GP.
Sharon lives and works in Brighton.
She always attended her three-yearly cervical screening (smear test) appointments and they came back normal. When she was 35, she was surprised to be told then that she had severe changes on her cervix that could become cancerous in time. Sharon had the treatment and moved on with her busy life.
Sharon says, “I was shocked at how many of my friends had missed their smear appointments. I didn’t have any symptoms so if I hadn’t gone for my check, things could have been a lot worse.”
After this experience, Sharon had annual checks and in 2016, this showed more changes requiring treatment. “Of course it was disappointing I needed more treatment, but I am really glad it was caught in time and has now been sorted out. I strongly believe that we should take responsibility for our health and attend these tests. In between, if you notice any changes, get help quickly.”
If you don’t have one, the NHS service search will help you find a GP near you.
- Bleeding between periods.
- Bleeding during or after sex.
- Bleeding after the menopause.
- Any unpleasant and/or unusual vaginal discharge.
- Discomfort or pain during sex.
Remember, these symptoms may not point to cancer but early diagnosis means it can be more easily and effectively treated. If you have any of these signs or symptoms, don’t wait for your next screening invitation – go and see your GP.
If you attend your GP with a symptom and are referred for a specialist appointment, you can expect to be offered an appointment within two weeks of the referral being received. Make sure you attend.NEED HELP MAKING A GP APPOINTMENT?
Jemma, from Brighton, had early cancerous changespicked up during a routine cervical screening.
“I had some treatment but I got the all clear and now I have a gorgeous daughter too.”
All girls aged 12 to 13 are offered HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. The vaccine protects against cervical cancer. If girls take up the vaccination at school, the programme will prevent at least 7 out of10 cancers of the cervix and maybe more in the future.