Cervical Screening Project in Hammersmith and Fulham
Over 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under.
What is the HPV vaccine and how can it reduce my changes of getting Cervical Cancer?
The Human Papilloma virus (HPV) is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body. There are more than 100 types of HPV, which can be spread through skin to skin contact and mostly harmless e.g common skin warts and verrucas. However, some types can cause abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix, which can eventually lead to cervical cancer.
Young women will have had the HPV vaccine as a teenager. This vaccination is known to reduce the risk of cervical cancer, however it doesn't protect against all types of HPV, so screening is still extremely important. Regardless of whether you have had the HPV vaccine, the most effective way to reduce risk of cervical cancer is to attend routine cervical screening appointments.
What will happen if I do not have a test?
Cervical screening – or a smear test – can help find cervical irregularities before they develop into cervical cancer and saves lives.
Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages. 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.
Every year approximately five million women in the UK are invited for a smear test by their GP Practice. Cervical cancer is the 19th most common cause of cancer death in females in the UK, accounting for 1% of all cancer deaths in females.
How do I access a Cervical Smear test?
The Cervical Screening service is free and women registered with a GP will be contacted to invite them to attend for regular screening at their GP Practice, along with further information about the Cervical Screening programme. Women aged between 25 – 49, will be invited to have a smear test every 3 years, with women aged between 50 – 64, every 5 years.
Uptake of cervical screening is at its lowest nationally in the last twenty years, particularly in Hammersmith and Fulham, with recent data suggesting that just over half of eligible women attended their GP Practice to have a smear test.
In Hammersmith and Fulham, we are very committed to increasing the number of women that attend for cervical screening and we have launched a focused project this year which we hope will improve uptake as well as help raise awareness of why cervical screening is so important.
What is the dedicated Cervical Cancer Screening team in Hammersmith and Fulham?
The Hammersmith and Fulham GP Federation, which is an organisation that represents all the GP Practices in Hammersmith and Fulham, has been working closely with RM Partners (the Cancer Alliance across North West and South West London) to establish a dedicated Cervical Cancer Screening team. This team includes trained female nurses who are delivering cervical screening clinics out of 7 GP Practices located across the borough at times accessible to women, including evenings and weekends.
This team is proactively contacting women who are overdue and eligible for a Cervical Screening test, in order to relay important health messages about why it is important to have Cervical Smear. They are also encouraging them to book an appointment at their own practice, or an alternative time and location that is convenient for them.
Who can I contact to find out more information?
We would urge any patient eligible for cervical screening and who may need additional advice or support to access screening, to contact either their GP, or the Hammersmith and Fulham GP Federation Cervical Screening Project Team, Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group or Jo’s Trust.