According to GynaeHealthUK, over 5 million women in the UK are overdue their smear test. The main reasons for this? 75% of women claim to have had a bad experience during their smear test, with 26% saying the process is painful and 1 in 4 saying the doctor or nurse had problems finding their cervix. Other excuses ranged from embarrassment to finding it hard to get an appointment.
Whatever the reason, and all of these are valid, being able to catch cervical cancer early is vital to maximise the chances of treating it. Each year, 3100 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and often there are no symptoms. Diagnosed in 2013 with cervical cancer, the first I knew of it was when I got a letter asking me to go to the hospital for a colposcopy following my smear test. Since then, I’ve been told my cervix is free from abnormal cells, although it can make having a baby harder for me due to a post-operation risk of early labour or late miscarriage. And 2 years on, I’m going for smear tests every 6 months. With earlier detection, I could have saved myself a year free from hospital visits, operations, huge stress and restricted exercise.
Target10000 is a campaign launched by GynaeHealth UK to encourage their target of 100,000 UK to undergo cervical screening. Recent research showed that 70% of women interviewed on behalf of GynaeHealth believed that a self-collecting alternative to a doctors appointment should be available. Until now, a doctors appointment was the most commonly available way to undergo cervical screening.
Cervical screening is vital to detect neoplasia of cells, otherwise known as abnormalities. It it these abnormalities of the cells that lead to cervical cancer. It’s important to stress that cervical screening ISN’T testing for cancer – but the risk of it. In the UK, women are screened every 3 years between the ages of 25 and 64. So how do you test for the risk of cervical cancer? This is where HPV comes in. It stands for the Human Papilloma Virus and it is considered the case of 99.7% of cervical cancers. Women who test positive for this virus are at higher risk of developing cervical cancer.
GynaeHealth have come up with an innovative way of allowing women to check for their risk of cervical cancer with a home-collecting kit. It’s called GynaeCheck. Upon ordering a kit online (see below for more details on price and how to order), you receive a discreet box that contains everything you need to complete your own home cervical cell collection. The main device is made up of a long tube. It’s thinner than a speculum and unlike traditional smear tests where a soft brush is used to collect cells, it deposits a small amount of water by the cervix then sucks it back. Upon removal, whatever is collected is emptied into a container which is posted back for testing. Results are given within 10 days. I was one of the first to try GynaeCheck and it doesn’t take long to do. Neither does it hurt.
Throughout September, as part of Target100,000 GynaeCheck is available to buy at the reduced rate of £99 (from £129). It includes a short health risk questionnaire and a home testing kit with everything you need to complete and send off the cervical cell sample. Postage for sending it back is included.
Cancer Research UK
Invasive Cervical Cancer Audit, Public Health England
Public Health England, Vaccination Program
Delphi Screening Device Literature