Staff working for the Fylde Coast NHS supported an annual campaign aimed at increasing the number of women going for their cervical cancer screening.
All last week, colleagues at NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the organisations that plan and buy health services across the area, supported Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to tackle the myths and stigma around the common virus HPV and get the facts out.
And as part of the annual #SmearForSmear campaign during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, staff at the CCGs have been smearing their lipstick with the results posted on social media sites Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
Dr Adam Janjua, a Fleetwood GP who is also the clinical cancer lead for the Fylde Coast NHS, said: “Our most up-to-date information tells us that there are 20,000 women on the Fylde Coast who have not had their smear test and this really is a troubling statistic for us.
“Cervical screening is the only test that can identify potential cancer before it fully develops into the disease, allowing it to be treated and prevented before becoming cancerous.
“I would urge all women out there if they are invited for a screening to please book the appointment. It really could save your life.”
Across the UK, cervical screening is moving to testing for HPV first. It is a far more sensitive test but also means many more women will be told they have HPV. In the majority of cases, HPV infection goes away without doing the body any harm. Sometimes it causes cells to change which, if not treated, could develop into cervical cancer.
Testing for HPV is a far more accurate test estimated to prevent almost 500 diagnoses of cervical cancer every year.
New research conducted by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found a third of women consider HPV a taboo topic and would not want anyone to know if they had it. A quarter haven’t heard of HPV and one in five would feel embarrassed if they were told they had the virus.
Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “HPV can be confusing but it is nothing to be ashamed of. Eighty per cent of us will get at least one type of HPV in our lives and in most cases the immune system will get rid of the infection without it causing any harm.
“We need to get the facts out about HPV and get rid of harmful myths and stigma around this really common virus.”