Cervical Cancer


Why is having a cervical cancer screening important?

Cervical cancer screening looks for changes in the cells of your cervix. Changes happen very slowly but can lead to serious problems like cervical cancer. If abnormal cells are detected they can be closely observed and/or treated to prevent cancer developing. Having a pap smear or VIA every two to three years can prevent the most common form of cervical cancer in up to 90% of cases

Who should be screened for cervical cancer?

If you are sexually active you should have regular cervical cancer screening - at least every two to three years unless otherwise advised by a healthcare professional - even if you are no longer having sex. This includes male to female, and female to female sex. You can visit your local Marie Stopes International clinic for a pap smear or VIA.

What causes cervical cancer?

The cause of almost all cervical cancers is through long term infection of certain types of viruses. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common viral infection which can be passed on during sex and sometimes causes an abnormal smear test result. Almost all abnormal pap smear results are caused by HPV. There are many different types of HPV, some of which have been linked to cervical cancer. Anyone who has ever had sex could have HPV as it is such a common virus, four out of five people will have the virus at some time in their lives. In most cases, it clears up by itself in one to two years. In rare cases if the virus persists and is left undetected it can lead to cervical cancer. A pap smear or VIA every two to three years can detect any abnormal cell changes caused by HPV, which can then be monitored and/or treated to prevent cancer.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Pap smear or VIA is for women who don’t have any symptoms and is used to detect abnormalities early. In the early stages of cervical cancer, there are usually no symptoms at all. You can look and feel perfectly healthy, and still have cell changes in your cervix. Having a pap smear or VIA is the only way to be sure.

Who is at risk of cervical cancer?

All women with a cervix who have ever had sex are at risk of cervical cancer. For this reason, regular pap smears at least every two years are highly recommended and are an important part of looking after your sexual health. You can visit your local Marie Stopes International clinic for a pap smear or VIA