Thursday, 23 October 2008

Cervical Cancer - The Facts - Entertainment Newsline

Jade Goody: “Racist”, “Pointless Celebrity”, “Bad Mum”.

It’s all been said at some time in relation to the loud-mouthed Essex star.

But regardless of what you think of the Ex-Big Brother contestant, I think everybody empathised with Jade Goody when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in August this year, Laura Routledge writes.

And yet, Jade is just one of around 2,800 women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year; making it the second most common cancer in women under 35 years old.

Shocking statistics and the fact that pre-cancerous cell changes do not have any symptoms, means it is crucial that women aged 25-65 have regular smear tests with three year intervals.

Contrary to common belief – a smear test is not a test for cancer – it actually involves a sample of cells being taken from the cervix so that any abnormalities can be detected early on, which with treatment, can prevent 75% of cancers developing.

If you are under 25 and wondering why you are not considered eligible for a smear test; the NHS state that it is very rare for women this age to contract cervical cancer, because as with their bodies – their cervixes’ are very much prone to change.
This makes false results very much a possibility and unnecessary treatment is likely to cause a lot more damage than good. Yet, anyone under 25 who is concerned about cervical cancer or her sexual health generally should contact her GP or Genito-Urinary Medicene (GUM) clinic.

Worryingly, at 27, Jade only began being invited for smear tests two years ago, but she is already considered to have a 50:50 chance of survival after doctors found that the cancer had spread further than they had expected, during an eight hour operation to remove her womb.

Aware of the need to detect this common cancer as early as possible, the Government has now announced that from this month, all girls aged 12 or 13 in England will be offered a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine. HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer and is otherwise known as ‘The Wart Virus’ because some types of the infection can cause Genital Warts. There will also be a 2 year ‘catch up’, starting this time next year, to vaccinate teens under 18.

However, HPV is not the only cause of cervical cancer and in fact, from the time a girl becomes sexually active, she is at risk of cervical cancer as many sexually transmitted infections can be linked to it – for example having HPV and Chlamydia increases the risk by as much as 70%. Even sleeping with someone who has not been circumcised increases a woman’s chances of contracting the cancer as these men are more likely to have HPV, than those who have been circumcised.

Other factors such as bad hygiene, smoking, a poor diet and genetics have all been linked to an increased likelihood of developing cervical cancer.

With 8 in 100,000 women getting cervical cancer in the UK each year and so many potential causes, basic prevention is essential and includes using a condom, avoiding sex at a young age and reducing your number of sexual partners.

Whilst pre-cancerous cells are without symptoms, it is important that if a woman is noticing bleeding between periods/after sex/during sex/ past the menopause, a vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant or discomfort during sex, that she goes to see her GP or local GUM clinic.

Whilst here at EN we wish Jade lots of strength in her battle against cervical cancer, you can help prevent any more potential tragedies by going to get a smear test every three years – something that is said to prevent 84 cancers out of 100 that would develop without screening.

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