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2017 Archive

1 March 2017

Grampian woman joins national drive to kick-start conversation around cervical screening

A woman from Aberdeenshire has joined a national drive to get women talking about cervical screening after being treated for abnormal cells following a routine smear test.

Sarah Bingham, 29, from Alford, added her support to the Flower campaign by urging women not to ignore their smear invite. 



The Flower film, created to challenge the reasons women give for not attending their smear, clocked up almost 24,000 views in its first week of release, and since its launch a host of women have shared their story in a bid to encourage others to take part in screening.

With six women being diagnosed with cervical cancer every week in Scotland1, viewers are urged to 'nip cervical cancer in the bud', by not ignoring their next smear invite or contacting their GP practice if they missed their last smear.

The NHS Health Scotland and Scottish Government campaign is targeting those aged 25-35 in Scotland, as cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women of this age group2

Statistics highlight between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, one in three women (33 per cent) aged 25-35 in Scotland didn't go for their smear when invited3.

A smear test can detect cells that could turn into cancer. The five minute test is the best way to protect women from the disease and helps save around 5,000 lives a year in the UK4.

All women in Scotland aged 25 to 49 are offered a smear test every three years while those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years.

Sarah Bingham is backing the campaign in the hope of encouraging other women to take part in screening.

Sarah had treatment to remove abnormal cells after attending a routine cervical screening appointment in 2016.

Sarah said: "I have always attended screening without hesitation and when I received a letter asking me to go for my regular smear I made an appointment with my GP."

Sarah was recalled for a second smear because abnormal cells had been found and then referred to the hospital for a biopsy.

After the biopsy, Sarah received a letter informing her she needed treatment to remove the abnormal cells from her cervix.

She explains: "The news was a shock but the treatment was fully explained to me before it began and the nurses were so lovely and put me at ease. The treatment was over quite quickly and I felt back to normal within a day or so.

"I am now looking at having follow-up smears every three months to make sure there are no further changes to my cervix. I am just so glad that the abnormalities were caught early thanks to my smear test.

"I urge all women to go for their smear test when they receive the letter. It's over in five minutes and can put your mind at ease. It could save your life."

Liz Clouston, practice nurse, NHS Grampian, said:

"No one looks forward to a smear appointment, but I want to reassure women that we're trained to make the test go as smoothly as possible.

"I've done hundreds of smear tests and afterwards, most women - especially those that it's their first time - are surprised by how quickly it's all over.

"Of course, it can be nerve-wracking, but there's no such thing as a silly question, that's what we're here for.

"So, don't ignore your next smear invite, and if you missed your last smear test, contact your GP practice to find a time that suits you."

For more information on cervical screening, visit getcheckedearly.org/cervical-cancer

The short film can be viewed here:  https://youtu.be/Y9z2n0IsUzA

  1. Scottish Cancer Registry, ISD.
  2. Based on women aged 25-35 (inclusive) who were diagnosed in the 5-year period 2009-2013. Source: the Scottish Cancer Registry. Reference IR2016-00831.
  3. Source: ISD(D)4 SCCRS for 2007-08 data onwards - www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Cervical-Screening/.
  4. Peto et al 2004. The cervical cancer epidemic that screening has prevented in the UK Lancet 35, 249-256.
  • A smear test checks the cells of a woman's cervix (the neck of the womb) and is designed to pick up any changes so that they can be monitored or treated. Without treatment the changes can sometimes develop into cervical cancer.
  • The test is routinely offered to all women in Scotland aged 25-49 every three years, with women aged 50 to 64 invited every five years
  • Symptoms of cervical cancer can include: 
    • Abnormal bleeding: during or after sexual intercourse, or between periods
    • Post-menopausal bleeding, if you are not on HRT or have stopped for six weeks
    • Unusual and/or unpleasant vaginal discharge
    • Discomfort or pain during sex
    • Lower back pain