It continues to be important to bring more awareness to cervical screening. Despite over 220,000 women being diagnosed with abnormal cell changes each year, still one in four women don’t attend their smear tests appointments organised for them every three years.
Smear tests detect the earliest of cell changes so that these pre-cancer cells can be removed before they become an issue. It is vital that we do more to raise awareness around how cervical cancer can be avoided and prevented, and what women can do to reduce their risk of disease.
Knowing the causes is the first step to diagnosis and early treatment. Most cases of cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus which is spread through unprotected sexual activity. This does not have to be penetrative sexual intercourse, HPV can be spread easily through prolonged intimate skin-to-skin contact.
How do you protect yourself against cervical cancer?
It is a myth that cervical cancer cannot be prevented. In most cases, cervical cancer is entirely preventable by getting vaccinated. Something we’ve heard a lot of recently, we know.
But there are so few viruses which have a vaccine, due to the years of scientific research it takes to develop one and the necessary funding needed, that it seems less than unreasonable to take a moment out of our busy lives to take preventative action.
The HPV vaccine has been offered to girls aged 12-13 in the UK since 2008. It works in the same way as other vaccines by helping your immune system create antibodies that will protect your body against contracting the virus. The first studies have shown the HPV vaccine reduces the rate of cervical cancer by 87 per cent.
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
For those women who were already adults in 2008, the best defence is to attend regular cervical smear tests. Cervical cancer is tough to diagnose, and while there are warning signs, they often come too late. The disease is often known as a ‘silent killer’ because but it often shows no symptoms in the early stages.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek urgent medical advice:
- vaginal bleeding that’s unusual for you – including bleeding during or after sex
- changes to your vaginal discharge
- pain during sex
- pain in your lower back, or pelvis
Even if you are not sure, it’s important to consult your GP if something doesn’t seem or feel normal for you.
Making a claim
Although doctors and nurses will always try to give the best treatment possible, sometimes mistakes happen, particularly if you are experiencing unusual symptoms, multiple conditions, or the consultations are over the telephone.
Examples of possible situations of common law negligence where a claim may be made are when there are failures to:
- carry out the correct examination or consider relevant medical history
- interpret warning signs in smear test results
- refer a patient to gynaecology or oncology for further investigation of symptoms
Delays or mistakes in diagnosing cervical cancer can be very serious and potentially life-threatening. If you feel like your health has been adversely affected by medical negligence, RHL Solicitors expert solicitors are here to help.
Our specialist medical negligence team adopt the approved Law Society ‘No Win, No Fee’ Agreement to cover their legal fees and always offer a professional and personal service.
Contact us today for a no obligation chat.