This week is ‘Cervical Screening Awareness Week’ which is designed to raise awareness of the importance of regular checks for cervical cancer and a cause close to the hearts of Dutton Gregory’s Medical Negligence Team.
Cervical Cancer is the 14th most common cancer in females in the UK. According to Cancer Research UK, national statistics taken between 2016 and 2018 suggest that around 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year. This equates to almost 9 new cases per day.
Cervical Cancer is where abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way and eventually form a growth. As with any cancer, screening and early diagnosis is crucial in winning the battle.
Cervical Screening (also known as a ‘Smear Test’) is a free test that checks the health of a cervix and helps detect any early signs of potential Cervical Cancer. The test checks for “high risk” types of a virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and aims to identify developing cervical cell changes and subsequent risk of Cervical Cancer. Those aged between 25 and 64 should be invited for screening every 3 to 5 years, dependent upon age and location.
The most common symptoms of (though not excusive to) Cervical Cancer include:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Vaginal discharge
- Pain in the area between the hip bones (pelvis)
“Statistics show, unfortunately, symptoms are not always present when Cervical Cancer is diagnosed, and early cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cell changes do not usually have symptoms,” says Abbi Handley, member of Dutton Gregory’s Medical Negligence Team. ‘That is why the best way to protect ourselves is to have regular cervical screening.’
“Diagnosing high risk HPV early means you can be monitored for abnormal cell changes, and any abnormal cell changes can be treated to prevent them turning into Cervical Cancer.”
The nature of the disease and public perception of Cervical Screening has meant that it has long featured in the firm’s Medical Negligence work.
“We have had cases where test results have been misinterpreted, examinations have not been carried out thoroughly enough, or there just hasn’t been referral for further investigation,” explains Associate Solicitor, Claire Henderson, a specialist in cases involving delayed and misdiagnosis.
“When people have understood what they need to do, in many cases summoned up the courage to get tested, it is vital that the process is carried out thoroughly. On the few occasions it doesn’t work, our duty is to investigate why and, if there are families who lose a loved one, help them get the resources they will need for the future.”
Further information on cervical screening and Cervical Cancer together with help available for those directly affected can be found on the following websites:
If you, or someone you know, have experienced sub-standard or delayed medical care in relation to Cervical Cancer, our team of specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors can help to pursue a claim for compensation.