Guest column: Don’t just file away that vital cervical screening invite

Sarah Nevett, gynaecology sister at Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust
Sarah Nevett, gynaecology sister at Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust

We’ve all picked up a letter from the doormat and quickly filed it thinking ‘I’ll get around to it’.

There it sits in the dark of a neglected cupboard draw, only ever visited with half-thoughts and vague promises that you’ll pay attention to it – soon, but not now.

Although it’s not necessarily our favourite topic for conversation, it may be one of the most important that women have.

Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in women under the age of 35, and that’s why it’s paramount that we take up our screening invite.

Let’s face it, it’s nobody’s idea of a good time to head into your GP practice and get undressed.

In a very British manner, we still tend to put our awkwardness and unease above good health.

But ask yourself which is better, five minutes of blushes or a lifetime of uncertainty?

Each and every day, nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, while in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw alone, one in four decide not to attend their routine screening appointments.

Just think how many would be saved if we decided to be more pragmatic and proactive with our health.

Women who don’t attend are the most vulnerable.

Usually there are no symptoms with cervical cancer, so it is only by having a smear test that any abnormal cells on the cervix can be found before they develop into cancer.

As a sister on the gynaecology outpatient clinic at Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals I often see younger women who believe they are immune to the illness because they have previously had their HPV vaccination, but this isn’t the case.

The best way to protect yourself against cervical cancer is by picking out your invite, arranging a screening appointment and approaching your health in an informed and intelligent way.

If you’re aged between 25 and 64, you are eligible to test between every three and five years.

It’s something we accuse the opposite sex of doing – putting things off until the last minute.

Do the smart thing, pick up and take up your invite.

It might just save your life.