laptop with the word cervical cancer
Health

On International Women’s day we discuss Cervical Cancer Awareness

Pen Orla O’Callaghan Glasses 3 min read

According to the Irish Cancer Society, approximately 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. It is the second most common female cancer in Europe. Cervical cancer can be prevented with regular screening, if found and treated early, it is highly curable. Why not take this opportunity to find out more about Cervical Cancer?

Cervical Cancer

The cervix forms part of the reproductive system. It is the lower part of the womb and is often referred to as the neck of the womb. Cancer of the cervix is cancer of the cells lining your cervix. At first, abnormal or precancerous changes develop, which can then lead to cancer itself. 

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Very early stage cervical cancer may have no symptoms. Some signs of cervical cancer may include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex or after the menopause
  • Blood stained vaginal discharge that may have a foul odour
  • Discomfort or pain in your pelvic area

Causes of Cervical Cancer

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

  • There is strong evidence that HPV is linked to cervical cancer. HPV is a very common virus that is passed on during sex. Most women will get this infection in their lifetime and it usually clears up by itself.
  • Persistent HPV infections can cause changes to the cervix. If these changes are left untreated they can lead to cancer of the cervix.
  • There is a HPV vaccine licensed for girls and women aged 9-26 years. In Ireland, it is available free to girls in secondary school as part of the national cervical vaccination programme.

Not Having Screening

  • Not having regular smear tests is one of the biggest risks of developing cervical cancer

Smoking

  • Smoking increases the risk of developing changes to the cells of the cervix
  • Smoking can also prevent HPV from clearing up

Prevention of Cervical Cancer through
Cervical Screening

  • Cervical screening involves a smear test that your GP or practice nurse can carry out.
  • It takes less than 5 minutes and although it can be uncomfortable, it is not painful.
  • Every woman between the age 25 and 60 should have a regular smear tests whether they are single or married, have sex with men or women, have the HPV vaccine, have stopped having babies or are menopausal.
  • The best time to have a smear test is 10-14 days after the first day of your period.

 For more information visit the Irish Cancer Society.

Orla O’Callaghan

Orla O’ Callaghan is the Occupational Health Advisor on the laya healthcare health and wellness team. She qualified as a Registered General Nurse from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) in 2009 and worked in London for three years. She graduated with MSc in Occupational Health from NUIG in 2012 and completed a traineeship with the European Agency for Safety and Health at work following this. She has a keen interest in workplace health promotion and in particular mental health awareness. She is currently studying counselling and psychotherapy in CIT. Although she lives in Cork her heart belongs to Co. Clare!