Recently I was asked if I’d write something about Cervical Cancer Prevention Week which ended on Saturday. “Did it?” You may be thinking. I didn’t realise there was such a thing either.
Along with Jo’s Trust and GynaeCheck, Target 100,000 are trying to raise awareness amongst those of us aged 40 and over about the importance of continuing with regular cervical screening.
I’ll admit I thought twice as I don’t often write about quite such private areas of my life but one line in the request made me have that second thought…
‘We certainly don’t want women to see GynaeCheck as a replacement for cervical screening, but as something that can work for women who can’t get an appointment, are embarrassed…etc.’
Yep, that’ll be me then…in the etc camp.
I could get an appointment I’m sure, definitely not at the most convenient time or with a doctor/nurse of my choice but getting an appointment has never been the problem.
Embarrassed? Strangely no. I hold more fear of the dentist than of having my ladybits looked at but the mind does work in mysterious ways!
No, the fact is, I’ve known for several years that I have a retroverted cervix. I’ll spare you the diagram but I will share this brilliant blog post I found while writing this piece. The line ‘I can’t find your cervix’ was indeed uttered to me by the poor unfortunate doctor tasked with performing my first smear test many moons ago.
Of course it’s there but those words have made the other common phrase one hears on these occasions, “just relax”, even more laughable.
Suffice to say, some doctors and nurses read your notes before delving into the unknown, some don’t bother. Ever since I moved house the latter has been the case resulting in a terrifying ordeal in which I ended up in absolute agony and bleeding for 6 weeks. I’ve never been back.
This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the importance of these check-ups, I really do, but, I was so enthused to find out about GynaeCheck, an at home self screening device that tests for the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV), the virus associated with 99.7% of cervical cancers.
From Target 100,000:
Why 100,000 women?
Every year in the UK, one million women miss their smear test. Research has shown that giving women the option of an at-home self-screener can increase engagement by about 10%. It is therefore estimated that offering GynaeCheck in the UK could help 100,000 more women be screened. GynaeCheck tests for high risk strains of the Human Papilloma Virus, the virus which leads to 99.7% of cervical cancers.
We aim to increase the number of women in the UK to be involved in some form of cervical cancer screening, whether through a traditional smear test or through GynaeCheck. We hope with the Target 100,000 campaign we can contribute and change the attitude of 100,000 women in the UK who are not currently having screening, to take the GynaeCheck test.
The Target 100,000 campaign aims to offer women not up to date with their smear tests an alternative in the form of an at home self-screener, GynaeCheck.
By offering an alternative and pain-free way to test for HPV, Target 100,000 hope that more women in the UK could be tested for the strains of HPV associated with almost all cases of cervical cancer, and that the number of lives lost to the disease will be reduced.
What is GynaeCheck?
GynaeCheck is a home test kit for the human papilloma virus (HPV):
- No need to visit your GP
- It’s comfortable and easy to use – no scrape of the cervix
- We supply the kit, you do the test and post back
- Sample is tested in state of art laboratories and results are with you within 10 days
What does GynaeCheck service include?
GynaeCheck can help in overcoming some of the barriers to attending cervical screening faced by women and thus ensure early detection of cervical cancer is more likely. The programme includes:
Comprehensive, factual information about cervical cancer that can be found on this website.
An online risk assessment questionnaire that will ask questions about lifestyle and family history to assess the risk to the individual (optional).
A home testing kit that:
Avoids the need to make an appointment at the doctors
Minimises the time needed to carry out the test
Overcomes the embarrassment felt by many women with a conventional test
Ensures privacy for sample collection
Avoids any discomfort in obtaining a sample as the woman is in control
This is what arrives when you order the GynaeCheck self-screening kit. It is not as complicated as it may look and you can take as much time as you need in the privacy of your own home. The only time you need to think about, erm, time, is to make sure you post your sample back as soon as you can as it can become unusable after 4 days. But that’s easy too.
Dr Pixie McKenna has made a video talking about this revolutionary new test:
Everything’s provided for you and I’ll be doing things this way in future.
GynaeCheck currently costs £129, worth every penny once every couple of years if it leads to early treatment of cervical cancer wouldn’t you say?
* I was asked to be part of Target 100,000 and sent the GynaeCheck kit for the purpose of this review.