18th – 24th January 2021 is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week – a week dedicated to raising awareness of cervical cancer and how people can reduce their risk of developing the disease. Cervical cancer may not be the most well-known or even the most common of cancers, but research shows that around 8 new cases are diagnosed every day in the UK. Women are routinely invited for cervical screening appointments, also known as smear tests, which are used to detect cellular changes within the cervix that could become cancerous. It is currently the most effective method of preventing cervical cancer.

Research conducted by the Eve Appeal has found that one in three women have missed their cervical screening tests during lockdown – something which could put them at increased risk of developing cervical cancer. Some of the reasons for non-attendance included concerns about contracting the virus, thinking that their test may not go ahead due to restrictions or having problems booking an appointment. Some women even cited that they didn’t feel that their cervical screening appointment was a priority.

Whilst we are in the middle of a global health crisis, it’s understandable that people may feel that non-urgent appointments can be overlooked, but doctors and cancer charities are urging women to schedule and attend their cervical screening exams. As with all cancers, early detection is paramount for starting prompt treatment and improving patient outcomes. Patients who are diagnosed at Stage 1 have a 5-year survival rate of almost 96% while for patients diagnosed at Stage 4, this drops to around 15%.

The current NHS schedule for cervical screening exams states that women of appropriate age are invited for an appointment every three years, unless otherwise advised by their GP or gynaecologist. Unfortunately, stories have shown that in some cases, it may not always take three years for cancerous cells to develop. If you are concerned about cervical cancer developing between appointments, there is a test that you can have that will be able to tell you, with 97.5% certainty, if you have any sort of cancer present in your body, including cervical cancer. This test is PanTum Detect – the first universal cancer test.

PanTum Detect is able to detect cervical cancer at its earliest stage – carcinoma in situ – when treatment is most likely to be fairly straightforward, successful and will give you the best possible outcome and long-term prognosis. This simple blood test can be performed annually, giving you peace of mind between cervical screening appointments.

PanTum Detect is now available at the Centre for Health and Human Performance, 76 Harley Street, Marylebone, London W1G 7HH.

If you have any concerns about cervical screening or cervical cancer, Jo’s Trust have created a special hub dedicated to answering questions about how Covid-19 is affecting cervical screening and cancer treatments at this time. You can visit it here.