Coronavirus has changed many things and during Cervical Screening Awareness Week (15-21 June) GPs in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge are supporting the national campaign to provide reassurance that it is safe to attend cervical screening appointments, which can reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Every year in the UK, 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Across east London, around 70 per cent of women who receive an invitation attend their free screening appointment (a smear test). However, the remaining 30 per cent are still not regularly taking up this potentially life-saving test.
GPs in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge say that the NHS is here to help, and anyone who receives invitations or reminder letters for screening appointments should attend. (These might have previously been postponed due to Coronavirus). Attending screening appointments can be crucial because early diagnosis and treatment of cancer greatly increases the chances of survival.
Anyone who needs care and treatment should continue to access it as and when they need it. There are measures in place to make sure patients are seen safely. The NHS remains open and has not closed its doors to non-Covid-19 patients.
Everyone with a cervix – meaning most women and many trans people – can book an appointment with their GP.
Dr Kanika Rai, cancer clinical lead for NHS Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), said:
“While there’s no single way to prevent cervical cancer, there are ways of reducing the risk. Spotting and treating it at an early stage is key to successful treatment so having a smear test is not only very important, it can help save lives.
“As part of Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2020, the message hasn’t changed – we are still urging women and people with a cervix in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge to attend their regular screening appointments when invited.”
To help raise awareness of why screening is still important, women are being urged to visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website https://www.jostrust.org.uk/coronavirus.
The website has a ‘hub’ of information and support, covering topics including cervical screening. If you are worried and need to talk, there is a free Helpline on 0808 802 8000.
You can find more information on Cervical Screening on the NHS England website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/