RCN advises regular cervical screening

Marking Cervical Screening Awareness Week, which runs from 11-18 June, the Royal College of Nursing has published new guidance for registered nurses around the importance of regular checks.

Figures show that one in four women do not attend cervical screening appointments, which increases the chances of undetected pre-cancerous cells resulting from high-risk HPV, the primary cause of cervical cancer. HPV, although uncommon in causing long-term harm, can lead to abnormal, pre-cancerous changes to the cervix, which, if not treated, may progress to cancer 10 to 20 years later.

In a survey of 25-to 29-year-olds, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust discovered that 70 per cent of young women do not think cervical screening reduces a woman’s risk of cervical cancer, even though regular cervical screening allows for the identification of abnormalities in the cervix and helps save lives by determining a woman’s risk of cervical cancer earlier. In 2016 alone, 854 women died as a result of the cervical cancer.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Cervical Screening and Cervical Cancer provides detailed information on the risks associated with HPV and how regular screening makes a positive difference to women’s health. Using the guidance, the RCN is urging nursing staff to increase awareness among women and men about the risks of HPV at every opportunity.

Carmel Bagness, professional lead for Midwifery and Women’s Health, said: “Cervical screening saves lives, and we can all play a vital role in supporting women through the process.
“This guidance provides nursing staff with the tools they need to perform cervical screening and stresses the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer.

“All registered nurses and midwives who undertake cervical screenings must have access to training programmes and ongoing continuing professional development opportunities, to enhance service provision and aim to help reduce the barriers which may prevent women from accessing these vital services.”

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