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A local woman is calling for more awareness of the symptoms of cervical cancer and ways to prevent it during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (January 20-26), following her own diagnosis and statistics* showing Glasgow has the poorest uptake for cervical screening in Scotland.
The most recent statistics show almost 1 in 3 (69.5%) women in Glasgow didn’t take up their invitation for cervical screening last year – the lowest figure in Scotland.
40 year old Hyndland resident Elaine Hastings is backing a national campaign by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to increase awareness of prevention and early detection through encouraging women to recognise the symptoms of the disease.
Elaine also runs a support group in the city for women who have gone through a diagnosis and has been trained by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the only UK charity dedicated to supporting women and those close to them affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities.
Elaine said: “I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in August 2009 at the age of 37. The year before I had started to experience intermittent bleeding which became heavier and more frequent. I did visit a doctor with concerns but after about 6 months was eventually referred for a colposcopy examination where I was told I had stage 2a cervical cancer – it was devastating.
“Luckily, after undergoing some rigorous treatment that included chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I was given the all clear in April 2010. Cervical cancer is a preventable disease so it’s absolutely shocking to know almost a third of women in Glasgow don’t take up their screening invitation. A cervical cancer diagnosis can lead to invasive treatment that may leave long terms effects including the possible loss of fertility. I would urge anyone to make the appointment as soon as they are due. I would also urge women to seek medical advice if they are experiencing any of the symptoms. Luckily I got checked otherwise the disease may have been even more advanced than it already was.
“At the time of diagnosis I had two young children aged 2 and 4, and whilst I was surrounded by my amazing family, it was still incredibly hard and it would have been great to talk to someone going through a similar experience. This is why I have set up a group for women in Glasgow; a place for them to get together and chat about whatever they need to. And if they want to come and simply have a coffee and listen then great!”
Robert Music, Director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “We are concerned about the number of women in Glasgow who are not having regular cervical screening tests. The cervical screening programme saves 5,000 lives in the UK every year so it’s imperative that women don’t ignore their invite as it could quite literally save their life.
“For those who face a cervical cancer diagnosis, early detection is key to improving survival rates and quality of life. It’s important that women are made fully aware of all the symptoms of the disease as well as feel confident enough to visit the doctor if they notice anything unusual going on with their body – whether this is a noticeable change in vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding or pain during intercourse, they should not be embarrassed or suffer in silence.
“We’re delighted Elaine is running this group as it means our face to face service can be extended to Glasgow and women in the area can get invaluable support.”
To register and for location details of the support group please visit www.jostrust.org.uk/support
For more information and to arrange interviews contact Maddy Durrant, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust on 020 7936 7498 or [email protected]
Notes to editor
1. *Scottish Cervical Screening Programme statistics 2011/12
2. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (www.jostrust.org.uk) is the UK’s only charity dedicated to supporting women and their families affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. For the charity's national helpline call 0808 802 8000
3. The recognised symptoms of cervical cancer are:
- abnormal bleeding: bleeding in between periods; bleeding during or after sexual intercourse; post menopausal bleeding
- unusual discharge
- discomfort/pain during sex
- lower back pain.
4. Around three women in the UK die each day from cervical cancer, with nine women being diagnosed every day, facing an uncertain future. Over 300,000 women a year are told they may have a cervical abnormality that could require treatment.
5. It is estimated that the UK Cervical Screening Programmes save 5,000 lives every year and if HPV vaccination take up continues to reach at least 80% it is believed this could result in a 2/3rds reduction in incidence in women under 30 by 2025.
6. Cervical cancer is predominantly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can be caught as soon as you start having intimate relationships.