Every year in Ireland, approximately 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. While it is not the most common form, it is a cancer that is not only preventable but curable once caught early.
his week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and I’m joined by Dr Sarah Fitzgibbon GP and Primary Care Clinical Advisor at Cervical Check, to take us through everything you need to know about this cancer, from the all-important screenings to the symptoms to look out for.
Dr Sarah says for many people, even thinking about cancer can be challenging and could potentially lead to women delaying their cervical screening:
“As soon as [people] hear that word, it’s really hard to hear anything else. And that can be a reason as well, why people sometimes may put off things like screening to do with cancer because they just don’t want their head space anywhere near that word.
“We know it’s a very tricky disease, but as time has gone on, the treatments and the outcomes for people who are diagnosed with lots of different types of cancers have improved hugely. And it really is important for us all to get used to talking about it, to recognise the symptoms and to doing everything that we can to make sure that we keep ourselves healthy.”
While that may be one reason, Dr Sarah says there is a perception out there that the process is an uncomfortable one. This can be the case for some women, but there are things that can be done to make it easier:
“For a lot of women it’s absolutely not their favourite thing to do, but it shouldn’t be painful. And for some women, particularly maybe women who’ve gone through the menopause, it can be a little bit more uncomfortable due to hormonal changes in the vagina.
“But there are things we can do about that and it’s really important that if that’s the thing putting you off or if there’s any other questions that you have about the test…going to your GP or your practice nurse, giving them a ring and having a chat through what it might mean for you or the reasons why you feel it might be uncomfortable for you. There are lots of things we can do.”
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The Real Health podcast is in association with Laya Healthcare.