It’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women under 35, but don’t worry – it’s also one of the most preventable, and the stuff you can do to help protect yourself is really simple! Here’s five things you can do to help prevent cervical cancer.
If you’re between 12-18, You can get a free HPV vaccine, which helps protect you against the viruses that cause 70% of cervical cancers. Year 8 students (girls aged 12-13) are now offered this vaccine at school as standard, so all you need to do is rock up, roll up your sleeve, and feel good about making a positive choice for your future health. If you missed the vaccine through your school, speak to your GP or Pharmacist about getting it done – even if you’re over 18 (although you might have to pay for it if you are – being an adult has its ups and downs). Find out more about the HPV vaccine, how it works and why it’s a good idea at the NHS England website.
This is an all-round good one – don’t smoke. On average, you’re half as likely to develop cervical cancer if you’re a non-smoker. Let’s say it again, a different way. You’re 50% more likely to develop cervical cancer if you smoke than someone that doesn’t. That is a BIG old number. So just – don’t do it. If you’re a smoker at the moment, but want to quit (good for you!) the NHS Smokefree App is a good place to start.
Get it on
Make sure you use a condom when you have sex. Again, it’s an all-round good one, but using a condom when you’re doing that nasty will help protect you against infections and viruses that could cause cervical cancer later on. As well as protecting you against some other infections and viruses that you don’t want either. Being in the know about your sexual health is super important, so make sure you head to NHS Choices for more info.
Go to your smear test
We could go on and on about how important it is to go to your cervical screening (smear test) when you’re invited. So we will – take a look at our blog post all about cervical screening. If you’re 25 or over, having a regular smear test can help find cervical abnormalities and infections before they have the chance to develop into cancer. It might feel a bit embarrassing, but it’s totally worth it if it keeps you fit and healthy.
Talk about it
It can feel a bit daunting to talk about cancer, but we are getting a lot better at that in general. That’s great, because talking about cervical cancer, smear tests and the rest can make the whole subject feel less scary, more manageable, and more a part of everyday life – which it is! Having an open conversation about smear tests with someone might encourage them to get checked out, and it might end up saving their life. There are loads of easy ways to help the conversation along, like the Jo’s Cancer Trust #SmearForSmear campaign.