January 17th to the 23rd 2022 is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which aims to raise awareness of cervical cancer and encourage as many women as possible to attend their cervical smears. As cervical cancer survival continues to increase, in this article, Medical Negligence expert solicitor in Norwich, Sara Westwood, explores the signs and symptoms to be cautious of.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix and it mainly affects women aged between 30 and 45. There are around 3,200 new cervical cancer cases in the UK every year which is more than eight per day. It is the fourteenth most common cancer in females in the UK.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages. The most common symptoms, if you do have them, is abnormal vaginal bleeding which can occur during or after sex, in between periods or new bleeding after you have been through the menopause.
If you experience abnormal bleeding, you should see a GP as soon as possible to get it investigated by your GP. If a GP thinks you might have cervical cancer, you should be referred to see a specialist within two weeks.
Screening and prevention
Cervical screening (smear test) is the best protection against cervical cancer; it detects pre-cancerous cells, allowing for them to be treated before they turn cancerous. Whilst there continues to be various campaigns to raise the awareness of smear tests, cervical screening rates have decreased over the last few years with NHS statistics showing a quarter of women in the UK either delay their smear test or don’t turn up at all.
A vaccine has been routinely offered to girls aged between 12 and 13 since 2008. However, it is important to attend your cervical screening tests, even if you have been vaccinated because the vaccine does not guarantee protection against cervical cancer.
If diagnosed early, the chance of a cure is usually very good which means mistakes or delays in diagnosing cervical cancer can have significant consequences.
A cervical cancer medical negligence claim might be made in the following circumstances:
- GP failure to refer a patient with symptoms suspicious of cervical cancer
- Smear test misreporting
- Inadequate treatment following cancer diagnosis
- Unnecessary treatment