CERVICAL CANCER: The earlier cervical cancer is caught, the more treatable it is.

If you have a cervix, you can get cervical cancer. This includes trans men 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.

Sarah Hurst is a successful Brighton businesswoman with her own beauty salon.

She works hard to help people improve their health and wellbeing, including looking after their skin properly.

But she says that the best thing she ever did for her own health was attend her cervical screenings. 10 years ago, Sarah went for a screening as normal and was called back soon after to be told that she had some pre-cancerous changes on her cervix.

As Sarah says, “I didn’t have any symptoms at the time, so would not have known that there was anything wrong. I strongly urge all who are eligible to have a screening to go for it. It is available for anyone registered as woman with their GP and aged 25-64. I know that if I hadn’t had my screening, the changes could have developed into cancer and the situation would have been much more serious. A few moments of feeling uncomfortable every few years really is worth it – and I’ve seen people go through far worse in the name of vanity in my line of work.”

Sarah has a number of transgender clients and she adds, “If you are trans and registered with your GP as male you won’t be invited for cervical screening. But if you have a cervix, you should be screened. I would always say to my clients, please do speak to your GP to arrange a test. If you are registered with your GP as female, you will be automatically invited for screening and you should keep going, if you have not had a hysterectomy.”

So the message is as clear as the skin of Sarah’s clients after treatment; if you are entitled to a cervical screening, book it up and get it done - it could save your life!

Know the signs
You should see your GP if you have any of these symptoms.

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.

Find out how to lower
your risk of getting cervical cancer

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.