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Recently a post went up on the Savvy 'n Sassy Facebook Group titled "The End of the Jade Goody Effect". It's message was, I found, mind boggling. I carried out my own research and made a shocking discovery.
Ignorance Can Kill!
What do you have in common with this vivacious woman? Not a lot, you are probably thinking but actually that isn’t true!
Like her, you have almost certainly been sexually active at some point in your life, have a family and friends that love you and want to live as long a spossible to see the children in your life, be they yours or someone else's, grow and prosper. Am I right?

Like Jade, you may also be one of those women who missed a smear test, assuming that everything was alright. Sadly, she lost her life on Mother’s day 2009.In the years immediaitely following her sad and unnecessary death, the “Jade Effect” saw a sharp increase in the numbers of women accepting their invitations for cervical screening. It was hoped that we were moving into an new era where it was recognised that a quick 5 minute or less test would be seen as an essential life saving health check every woman needed. It seemed that cervical cancer was being treated with the same respect as breast cancer.

Unfortunately, the Jade Effect has waned. How quickly we forget. This is down to both ignorance of facts and the fact that 41% of local authorities do nothing to promote screening as they don’t believe it is their responsibility. (ref 1). Now, I can't at this moment in time write to all those local authorities but, I can give you some very important facts!
In women over 50, there is a significant decrease in accepting invitations to be screened. The invitation is of course not mandatory and you have the right to turn it down. But why would you do that? Granted, the smear test is not the best fun you can have, but I had one recently and the new speculums are so small that I barely felt anything. It wasn’t even uncomfortable. The lovely nurse chatted to me during the couple of minutes it took to complete and, to be honest, for the first time, I didn’t find it embarrassing or uncomfortable. Things have certainly moved on on the comfort front.!

The BBC reported that 1/3 of women over 50 delayed or failed to attend their appointment for screening. The numbers taking up the offer is at a sixteen year low amongst the 60 to 64 age range. Amongst those in the 50 to 64 age range that skipped their appointment, 49 in every 10000 were diagnosed with cancer. Those who were screened regularly, and had a clear and normal history of results, had the lowest risk of CC right into their eighties. (ref.2)

CC is one of the easiest cancers to treat. If you are screened regularly it is most unlikely that you would get a "too late" diagnosis. If you have had a previous CIN -3 diagnosis that was treated, it is essential you keep up regular screening as you do have an increased risk  of the cancer returning. (ref. 3).
When interviewed many women cited the fact that they were no longer sexually active as the reason they no  longer needed screening. This is absolute BS! If you have ever been sexually active, you need regular testing. Any sexually active woman can have HPV. This often lays dormant for years , even decades. HPV is a known precursor for CC. So just because you are older does not mean you are immune to CC. To find out more about this click here. The Shocking Rise of STDs in Women Over 50.

Do you smoke tobacco? Do you take the pill? Do you have HIV?
These are also factors that increase your CC risk. If this is you, you cannot afford to miss your screening.

Many women reported that they found the test painful as they have aged. In fact the number is at 29..1% (ref.4). As I mentioned earlier, the new plastic speculums are sooooooo much more comfortable than those metal things! You can also make it easier on yourself too. There are things you can do to make it more comfortable. Firsty , relax! Its only a couple of minutes, and let me tell you if you only had two minutes to get to the train or miss it you'd be thinking 2 minutes was nothing! Secondly, if you use vaginal pessaries, don’t for the two days before your test. The same time frame goes for tampons. If you are woriied about discomfort ask the nurse to use alittle more lube.

Many women believe that CC is a disease for young women. It absolutely isn’t. Over a third of all diagnosis in England were in women over 50 and of those in the 50 to 64 age range, 49% were diagnosed with cancer at a minimum of stage 2.
There is no doubt that cervical screening is the best way to prevent unessary death through CC. Women must be educated and understand that 50 % of all cervical cancer deaths occur in the over 50s. Thisis ridiculous. Why on earth would anyone be prepared to die over a few minutes having a smear test? Beats me, it really does.

For more information and support there is a superb website Jo's cervical cancer trust.
To find out how to take control of cervical screening test and how often you should go please click here.
Please, take responsibility for your own good health and don’t be an unnecessary statistic like Jade . Also, please share this article, it could save a life! 

Wishing a happy healthy day!
Janie S xxx

2. Cancer Research Data 2012


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