We asked Jenny, Big C’s Cancer Information Clinical Nurse Specialist, some common questions regarding Cervical Cancer and how Big C can help not only those who’ve been diagnosed, but even people afraid of having their cervical smear.
Q: How does cervical cancer develop?
A: Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way.
Q: Who does it affect?
A: It can affect women of all ages, but it mainly occurs in women between the ages of 30-45. It is very rare in women under 25.
Q: What causes cervical cancer?
A: Almost all cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a viral infection which can be passed between people through skin-to-skin contact. According to the NHS website, there are HPV types linked to cancer called high-risk types. These can can cause cervical cancer, anal cancer, cancer of the penis, vulval cancer, vaginal cancer and some types of head and neck cancer.
Q: What are the signs or symptoms for cervical cancer?
A: Signs and symptoms can include:
- Spotting and/or bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Vaginal discharge
- Unexplained and/or persistent back or pelvic pain.
Q: What are some ways in which you can reduce the risk of cervical cancer? A: Some ways to reduce the risk of developing this cancer are:
- Have regular smear tests. Ensure you make an appointment when you get your reminder
- Have the HPV vaccine if you are offered it
- Try to stop smoking. Your GP can refer you to the NHS Stop Smoking Scheme
- Practice safe sex
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
- Make an appointment with your GP or a nurse if you have any concerns – don’t wait until you are due your next smear.
- Know where you can get more information and support. There are three Big C Centres across Norfolk, and other services available through Macmillan Cancer Support, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and the Eve Appeal.
Q: How can Big C help someone who is nervous about their cervical screening?
A: Big C can offer appointments with our nurse specialists who will answer any questions you may have and discuss any concerns. They do not have access to your medical records, so may refer you to ask some of your questions to your hospital nurse specialists. There is also a support line you can ring at 0800 092 7640 Monday to Friday 9.00am-5.00pm. You can also visit support.big-c.co.uk for more information on our support and information services available.