ATTENDING a cervical screening appointment could be life-saving.
That’s the message from Nuffield Health Chichester Hospital’s specialist team of gynaecologists.
In the UK, 22 per cent of women do not attend their cervical screening appointments – which save about 5,000 lives a year. The appointment detects ‘crucial abnormalities’ in the cells of the cervix which can be treated by a gynaecologist.
Consultant gynaecologist and cancer surgeon Dr Brinkmann, from Nuffield Health Chichester Hospital, said: “Though we are improving, in the UK, we have lower survival rates than the European average for some cancers.
“That is why we are urging women to be more aware of signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancers.
“This will hopefully lead to earlier diagnoses and help improve the survival rates.”
Libby Stockel lives in Petersfield with her husband and 18-month-old son. “Things could have been very different for me,” she said.
“If I had waited instead of going straight away for my smear test, as soon as the letter arrived, my outcome would have been very different. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2011 which had developed very quickly.
“Luckily for me, I received excellent care and treatment and now I want other women to understand they should not delay tests, find a good gynaecologist, ask the right questions and get informed. For example, I’ve never had a simple smear test result. I was always being recalled and though I never asked why, perhaps I should have done.
“My periods were always heavy, painful and irregular, but I thought it was just me. Since the cancer treatment, they are normal and regular so I urge women to not think they have to put up with things, get them checked. There may well be a reason behind these symptoms, but if you don’t ask, you won’t find out.
“It can be hard to understand the extensive clinical terminology used to describe gynae health, especially if you are using the internet as a source of information.”
“I recommend you find a consultant gynaecologist and ask him or her the questions.
Libby now volunteers for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust as a lay person, reviewing fact sheets written for patients or those wanting to learn more about cervical cancer treatment.
Libby was treated by consultant gynaecologist and cancer surgeon Dr Brinkmann at Nuffield Health Chichester Hospital.
Dr Brinkmann said: “Ninety-eight per cent of the patients I see for treatment with abnormal smears do not have cancer. Libby fell within that two per cent and was at risk of it spreading. We discussed her options and I introduced her to other experts to provide her with all the options so she could make an informed decision.
“Essentially she wanted to be cured and be able to have a family. Though this sounds simple, the situation she was in was not. She asked questions and we discussed every option thoroughly.”