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By: Dr Afiniki Akanet, author of Fortitude and Life Without Coffee (Choosing Happiness Over Stress)
Posted on: Jan 16, 2020

3 Ways to Miminise Your Risk of Developing Cervical Cancer


Medical Doctor and TCH guest blogger, Afiniki Akanet, shares her advice on how to minimise your risk of developing cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that there were 570,000 new cases in 2018 representing 6.6% of all female cancers. Approximately 90% of deaths from cervical cancer occurred in low and middle-income countries.

As a UK General Practitioner (GP), I feel so blessed to be working within a National Health Service (NHS) where healthcare is free at the point of delivery to everyone. Despite the complaints about staff shortages and pressures on GPs, most people in the UK will get the treatment they need as and when required. We even take it a step further by providing good screening programmes to help catch certain diseases early, giving people a better chance of survival. As such, the high global mortality rate for cervical cancer could be reduced through a comprehensive approach that includes preventative vaccinations, community education, and effective cancer screening programmes. In support of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week this month (20-24 Jan), here are some tips for decreasing your risk of an unwanted diagnosis.

Know Your Body

Many of us take for granted the normal functioning of our bodies, until something goes wrong. The important thing is to know when something is wrong, and not
ignore it. For women, the following symptoms should act as warning signs:

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods, during or after sexual intercourse, or after the menopause
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Sustained unintentional weight loss
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

There might be other explanations for these symptoms, but it is always best to check they are not being caused by cervical problems. As some of these symptoms can also be the result of infection, or even have no clear cause, the key is not to panic. Most people with cervical cancer will have no symptoms at all, which is why it is important to go for routine screening checks.

Be Intentional

Many people miss their ‘free’ cervical screening appointments for lack of being organised. They know the importance of screening tests and want to have them, but somehow misplace the appointment letter or get carried away with other life issues. Prioritising our health and the invitations from medical professionals for screening can be the difference between life and death.

This year, decide to take more responsibility for your health and set whatever reminders will help you to make your appointments. Understand why the professionals want to see you and ensure that you come back for follow up, if required. Unfortunately, healthcare systems are not perfect, so even if you have normal results, it is helpful to make a note of when your next screening is due so that you are not totally depending on the hospital to contact you in 3-5 years. Being intentional about cervical cancer prevention also involves exploring available HPV vaccinations, and avoiding risk factors, such as smoking, poor diet, binge drinking and unnecessary exposure to radiation.

Introducing antimicrobial-treated products into the home of an immunocompromised cancer patient can help to minimise their risk of developing complicated infections.
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Get Your Facts

I have heard patients confess that the fear of getting a serious diagnosis stops them from seeing doctors when they are invited. People tend to focus too much on “What if it is cancer?” but the reality is that they have a better chance of being treated if cervical cancer is diagnosed early. Finding out one way or the other can also alleviate mental stressors that may otherwise seriously impact on a person's every day life. If you can focus on the 'what is' rather than the 'what if', then you are more likely to remain happier and healthier.

Directly or indirectly, cancer will have an impact on each and every one of us at some point in our lives. It's important to note that there is emotional, physical and financial support available from professionals and charities to help you and your loved ones throughout the process. Whatever the outcome of your cervical screening, try your hardest to stay positive, make better life choices and be grateful for every day.

Disclaimer: The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor and/or a qualified healthcare provider in relation to any confirmed or suspected medical conditions. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment based on the recommendations stated in the article. The Cleaner Home (TCH) and/or our blogger partners do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures, opinions or other information that may be provided on linked websites.