NHS Tayside’s colposcopy team is supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (January 22-28) with a series of events to raise awareness of the importance of regular screening.
Throughout the week, healthcare staff will be hosting awareness stands at hospitals, shopping centres and supermarkets across Tayside where women can ask questions and discuss any concerns they may have about cervical smear tests. Information packs will be available for visitors and the team will collect feedback about how best to engage with women to increase screening rates. There is also an online questionnaire for women to give feedback until January 31 at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Z7LXNZ9.
A NHS spokesperson said: “The team will also be able to offer same-day opportunistic smears to women who are overdue or who are over the age of 25 and have not had a smear.”
Events will be held in the following locations:
Monday, January 23 - Stall in Ninewells Hospital concourse, from 9am to 5pm.
Tuesday, January 23 - Stall in outpatient department, Stracathro Hospital, from 9am to 4pm; Stall in Ninewells Hospital concourse from 9am to 1.30pm; Drop in smear session at Whitehills Health and Community Care Center in Forfar, from 6 to 8pm;
Wednesday, January 25 - Stall at outpatient Area 3, Ninewells Hospital, from 9am to 5pm; Stall at outpatient department at Arbroath Infirmary, from 9am to 5pm; Stall at Abbeygate Shopping Centre, Arbroath, from 9am to 5pm; Drop in smear session at Arbroath Infirmary, from 6 to 8pm.
Thursday, January 26 - Stall in Ninewells Hospital concourse, from 9am-5pm; Staff in ASDA in Forfar, from 9am to noon.
Friday, January 27 - Stall in Ninewells Hospital concourse, from 9am to 12.30pm.
Cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives in the UK every year and prevents 8 out of 10 cervical cancers from developing.
In Scotland, all women between the ages of 25 and 50 are offered a cervical screening test every three years and those between 50 and 65 are offered screening every five years.
Lead colposcopist Dr Kalpana Ragupathy said: “Cervical cancer affects almost 1 in 100 women and Tayside has the highest incidence of cervical cancer in Scotland. In terms of cervical screening uptake, Tayside is amongst the lowest five health boards.
“An abnormal smear does not mean cancer. It means a surface change in the cells in the cervix that could maybe turn into cancer if left untreated.
“Precancerous changes precede cervical cancer by 10-15 years. Regular smear tests pick up these changes and treatment reduces the risk of cervical cancer by 95%.”
Gynae cancer lead Dr Wendy McMullen added: “Surface changes that need treating can almost always be treated in the clinic, either at the first or second visit. The examination takes about five minutes and the treatment, if needed, about another five to 10 minutes. Nearly all women leave the clinic saying the examination and treatment is slightly uncomfortable but not nearly as bad as they thought.
“We realise that some women have particular difficulties with examination but it is so important that these women come for their smear tests and follow up. It is so sad to see women having life changing treatment for a cancer that could have been prevented by a five minute smear test and a half hour visit to the clinic. Please put it on your list for 2017.”