Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages. Unlike a lot of cancers, cervical cancer more commonly affects younger people, particularly sexually active women between 30 and 45.
If you do have symptoms, the most common is abnormal vaginal bleeding, which can occur during or after sex, in between periods, or new bleeding after you have been through the menopause. Abnormal bleeding does not mean you have cervical cancer, but you should see a GP as soon as possible to get it checked out.
Every 3 years from aged 25 until after your menopause, women will be invited for a smear test. This is a quick test where a few cells are rubbed off the cervix (neck of the womb) using a plastic brush, and looked at under a microscope. We do this because the changes in the cells that can go on to cause cancer can often be spotted YEARS before they actually become a problem. If found they can then be scraped off in a simple procedure, preventing serious complications later on.
Smears are uncomfortable but not painful. Please do not be embarrassed to come in – we have seen it all before! Let your nurse or doctor know if there is anything we can do to make you more comfortable.
For more information about cervical cancer screening, see the NHS site below: