Catching it early: The fear of the smear

If you live in the UK, you’ll probably already know that the NHS has lots of cancer screening programmes, designed to spot the early signs and take action before things develop further. The one which I have first-hand knowledge of is the cervical screening process. A year ago I wrote about the worry that can arise from a routine smear test because, the first time my results were abnormal, I had no idea what to expect. I thought that writing about my experience might help others to realise the programme is there to ensure that you have very little chance of actually developing cervical cancer, providing you go for your smear tests when they’re due. I have recently had another set of abnormal results and have been called for a colposcopy once more, and so I thought this was a subject worth addressing again.

What actually happens in a smear test? Well, I shall leave that to mydiaryfromdownunder to explain. Suffice to say that, although it can be painful for some women, for most it’s merely uncomfortable. I’ve been rather fortunate in that, although I have had a lot of smears in my life so far, they have all been carried out by kind and proficient healthcare professionals. Not everyone is that lucky though, so do complain if you feel you have been treated badly. However, the really important thing to remember here is that this might save your life.

If you are over 25 years old and you have a cervix, please make sure that you are registered with a doctor and are getting a smear at least every 3 years. Keeping an eye on any changes means that any treatment you need to keep you healthy will be very minor indeed.

Main image via jostrust.org.uk. Second image by lipsticklori.

2 thoughts on “Catching it early: The fear of the smear

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  1. On a related, sharing, note, and pondering your last paragraph – In all honesty I'm one of the many men who /don't/ check themselves.

    I think it's one part apathy, generously mixed with a lack of understanding of what to check /for/. There is probably also a hint of the 'invulnerability of youth', given that my family has no cancer history.

    Regardless, I find my reasoning pretty weak – given that it's in my hands (no pun intended) to a greater degree than cervical cancer 'spotting'. I should stop musing and take action!

  2. Yes, indeed! Everyone should be aware of the types of cancer which they are at risk of (however small that risk is) and know how to check for the signs, or how often they need to go to their GP for tests. If caught early enough, many cancers can be stopped in their tracks.

    Get some info on how to check yourself and get “hands on”!

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