Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2022: when is the awareness week, how to get involved and smear test advice

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A cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week takes place every year, raising awareness of cervical screening.

But what is it and when does it take place?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week?

Cervical Cancer Prevention week takes place every year and aims to raise awareness of cervical screening.

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According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, one in three women and people with a cervix don’t attend cervical screening, but notes that cervical cancer prevention doesn’t stop at screening.

The charity said 220,000 women and people with a cervix every year are told they have cervical cell changes after their screening, and many more are given a HPV diagnosis, which can mean more tests and treatments.

“We want everyone to have the information and support they need. So we want you to join us and share tips, facts, and most importantly help others know they aren’t alone,” said the charity website.

Samantha Dixon, chief executive at the charity, added: “It should not be the case that shame is connected to cervical screening results in 2022. HPV stigma is something that needs to be tackled and it’s up to all of us to remove the stigma attached to having a diagnosis. Far more needs to be done to ensure everyone attending screening is fully prepared for different results and has the information they need to deal with them, because cervical cancer prevention doesn’t stop at cervical screening.”

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Hilary Maxwell, CEO of  gynaecological cancer charity GO Girls, said: “Preventing cervical cancer is paramount to the WHO’s ambition to eradicate cervical cancer.  First, there is primary prevention through vaccination and secondly screening where the aim is to look for high risk HPV (human papillomavirus) which may lead to cervical cancer, so it can be appropriately treated before this could occur”.

“Sadly, there will always be a small percentage of women who will go on to develop cervical cancer, despite all best efforts with prevention: we do not know all the reasons for this.

“Nevertheless, if there are preventative methods to minimise risk to women, we would strongly encourage all women to take this up.  No one ever wants a diagnosis of cancer”.

When does Cervical Cancer Prevention Week take place?

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week takes place from 17 to 23 January in 2022.

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How can I get involved?

You can get involved in the awareness week in a number of ways.

You can use social media to talk about cervical screening, including why it’s so important and share your tips to make it an easier test.

This is an example tweet from Jo’s Trust:

This week is #CervicalCancerPreventionWeek. Cervical screening can stop cervical cancer, but it isn’t always easy. If you have questions or need support with results then visit @JoTrust www.jostrust.org.uk/ccpw

You can join in the conversation on social media and use #CervicalCancerPreventionWeek so others can find you.

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If you’ve had to have a colposcopy or have received unexpected cervical screening results, you could also share your experience of this and let others know what you wish you had known.

You can also share tips and information from Jo’s Trust, and signpost people to their support services.

You could also get your workplace involved and display posters or take on a fundraising challenge.

Is #SmearForSmear taking place this year?

This year, Jo’s Trust said it’s focusing on sharing stories, information and tips that go further than a smear test, which is why #SmearForSmear “isn’t quite right for this year’s campaign”.

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The charity still wants to talk about the importance of screening and support women and people with a cervix to attend, but it said it also wants to talk about what happens after the test to reduce the fear and confusion so many feel.

However the website added: “Needless to say, if you’ve already got your lipstick at the ready, that’s absolutely fine too – we hope you can still join in the campaign by sharing a smear test tip or supportive message with your selfie!”

What happens during a cervical screening?

A cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.

It’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer and all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter.

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During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.

The sample is then checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called "high risk" types of HPV.

If these types of HPV are not found, you do not need any further tests.

If these types of HPV are found, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.

You will get your results by letter, usually in about two weeks, which will explain what happens next.

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