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Cervical screening is an important part of protecting your health but the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 mean that many women have missed their screening or follow up appointments.
Cervical screening is a simple test that can identify abnormal cells that could go on to develop into cervical cancer. The test is performed by inserting a speculum into the vagina to hold it open and then running a swab across the cervix. A small sample of cervical cells is collected and sent to the lab for testing. The test can identify any abnormal or precancerous cells in the sample.
The abnormal cells that are detected by the smear test are precancerous so an abnormal smear test result does not mean that you have cervical cancer. However, it does mean that you might be at risk of developing cervical cancer if the abnormal cells are not removed. Over time, they could become more abnormal and turn into cancer. As long as the abnormal cells are identified during cervical screening, it is usually possible to perform a simple procedure to remove them so that they can’t cause any problems in the future.
By preventing cervical cancer from developing, the smear test can protect your health and prevent the need for more serious kinds of treatment in the future. Cervical screening has saved the lives of many women who would otherwise have been affected by cancer.
Attending your regular cervical screening appointment is important as it ensures that any developing abnormalities will be detected and treated as soon as possible. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many delays and missed appointments in the screening programme. If you were due for cervical screening this year then it is important to ensure that you reschedule the appointment when you are able to visit your doctor. However, it is important to remember that cervical screening tests are for healthy people so a short delay shouldn’t be cause for concern.
As the COVID-19 restrictions start to be lifted, you should expect to receive an invitation to book or reschedule your cervical screening appointment. However, it is important to remember that there will still be social distancing measures in place in order to protect you and the clinic staff. If you or a member or your household develop symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19 then you will need to self-isolate at home and to rearrange the appointment again. Cervical screening is important but it is also vital to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect yourself and your family’s health.