Thousands of women in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are being encouraged to attend a potentially life-saving cervical screening test, and to look out for the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer.
The call comes following the cancellation of many routine cervical screening examinations during April and May due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It is estimated more than 68,000 women in the area had not attended cervical screening even before the lockdown period began, and there are fears that more women will develop this often preventable form of cancer because they believe it is safer to stay at home.
Dr Alison Wint, MacMillan GP and Clinical Lead for Specialised Care at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), explains more:
“When coronavirus was at its peak, some routine cervical screenings were cancelled because the risk of contracting coronavirus and becoming ill was greater than the risk of delaying cervical screening for a short time. However, we have worked hard to ensure our practices are safe and ready to begin this potentially life-saving screening.
“It is still as important as ever to attend cervical screening if you are sent an invitation by your GP practice. If you were unable to attend your screening during the peak of the virus during April or May, you will be contacted in the coming weeks to rearrange screening. Women who were due to receive a cervical screening invitation during April and May will also now begin receiving invitations as screening begins again.
“Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. However, we need women to attend this short test to identify abnormal cells before they can become cancer. Early detection is the best form of defence, and cervical screening is a quick and simple procedure that really does save lives.
“I would also emphasise the importance of looking out for the signs of cervical cancer, such as vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you, changes to vaginal discharge, pain or discomfort during sex or an unexplained pain in your lower back or hips. Please contact your GP as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms.”
The call for more women to attend cervical screening comes during Cervical Screening Awareness Week, which runs from 15-21 June.
More information about cervical screening and the coronavirus is available on the Jo’s Trust website.