Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in women under 35 with two women in the UK per day dying from the disease. In this article, specialist solicitor Claire Henderson explains her support for and work involving those facing the disease.
From 14th June 2021, the charity ‘Jo’s Trust’, which is dedicated to supporting women affected by cervical cancer or abnormalities, is running its annual Cervical Screening Awareness Week to encourage and highlight the importance of regular screening as part of personal healthcare. The week is designed to help women and people with a cervix to understand the reasons, benefits, possible risks and outcomes.
According to Cancer Research UK there were 3,152 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK between 2015 and 2017, 854 deaths from cervical cancer between 2016 and 2018 and only half (51%) of people diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2013 and 2018 survived 10 years of more.
As with any cancer, early diagnosis is crucial to winning the battle, and the best way to protect ourselves is to have regular screening.
Five million women and people with a cervix are invited for screening every year. Many will dread the letters coming through the post and will be embarrassed at the very thought of getting the test done. However, cervical screening is very important and there is no reason for anyone to dread the test.
Cervical screening (which used to be known as a ‘smear test’) is a free test that helps prevent cervical cancer. The test checks for the presence of a virus called high- risk human papillomavirus (HPV) and aims to identify whether someone is at higher risk of developing cervical cell changes or cervical cancer. All women and people with a cervix aged between 25 and 64 years old will be invited for the screening regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Although we can all play our part in the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer, sometimes mistakes can be made in diagnosing cancer, including
- Misinterpretation test results,
- Failure to carry out adequate examination
- Failure on part of the GP to refer to gynaecology for further investigation.
Delay or failure to diagnosis cervical cancer can have devastating consequences and, in my experience, have been some of the most difficult cases to work on because you see, first-hand, the effects it has on the children who are left without their mother and the husbands who lose their wives. This is happening to too many children because of either the failure to attend regular screening due to embarrassment or not knowing what to expect, or women being let down during the process.
The profound effects of situations such as these are why I am proud to represent individuals and families affected by negligence and help them obtain and support while, hopefully, preventing others from losing their lives in a similar way.
So, as part of Cervical Screening Awareness Week, I would encourage all women to have regular cervical screening, get the information for reassurance around any fears or embarrassment and seek advice and support at whatever stage something doesn’t feel right.
More information about Cervical Screening Awareness Week and information about cervical cancer and cervical screening itself can be found on the Jo’s Trust website www.jostrust.org.uk or from your local GP’s office.