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Hull woman calls for increased awareness of cervical cancer symptoms and prevention

Mon, 21/01/2013 - 00:00

Cervical cancer support group launches in city

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 shocking statistics for the region.

The most recent statistics* show the Humber and Yorkshire East Cancer Network reporting a 13.9% incidence rate for the disease – over 5% higher than the national average and the highest in England. Furthermore at 77.2%, cervical screening uptake for Hull falls below the national average (78.9%) and has sparked concerns that over 1 in 5 females are putting themselves at risk of developing the disease.

Hull resident Julie Newman is backing a national campaign by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to increase awareness of cervical cancer symptoms and prevention as well as launching a support group for women affected by the disease in the city.

Julie, who has been trained by the charity, said: “At the end of 2007 I was almost a year late for my cervical screening test. I had also been bleeding consistently for the past 18 months but had always put this down to irregular periods. Finally I booked myself a cervical screening test and following results I had a phone call inviting me to colposcopy. One week later I was told I had cervical cancer.

“The cancer had by this time spread to my womb so a hysterectomy wasn’t an option. I had chemotherapy, radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy.

“I’m backing this campaign because I know I should have paid more attention to my body. I didn’t know anything about the disease and if I had I would have acted sooner. Similarly if I had attended my cervical screening test when it was due, the cancer would have been detected earlier and may not have been so advanced.

“Being told you have cervical cancer can be both terrifying and isolation which is why I’m also starting a support group for the women of Hull, so that others who have been through a diagnosis of cervical cancer can get face to face support, meet others affected in a confidential setting and share experiences.”

Robert Music, Director, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust comments: “We are concerned about both cervical cancer incidence in the Humber and East Yorkshire area and cervical screening uptake in Hull. 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 Julie has started this group as it will offer wonderful support to women affected by cervical cancer in this community. Women we have supported voiced a need for groups like this, and we are delighted that we can help extend our support network to Hull.”

For details of the first meeting visit www.jostrust.org.uk

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. *Statistics taken from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (www.ncin.org.uk)
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.