Urgent warning as number of women with cervical cancer surges – the 4 signs you must know | The Sun

A STUDY has cast doubt on what the screening age for cervical cancer should be.

Cervical cancer is a devastating disease that usually affects women in their 30s.

But a study conducted by UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers found that nearly one in five new cervical cancers diagnosed from 2009 to 2018 in California were in women aged 65 and older. 

"An alarming number of California women 65 and older are facing late-stage cervical cancer diagnoses and dying from the disease," the research team wrote.

The study showed that for 71 per cent of women aged 65 and over with cervical cancer had a late state diagnosis, compared to only 48 per cent of younger women.

Researchers also found that late-stage diagnoses increased up to age 79.

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Finally, women aged 65 and over with late-stage cervical cancer had poorer survival rates compared to women under 65.

Researchers used data from the California Cancer Registry, which has collected informationon cancer incidences and treatment since 1988.

They identified all women aged 21 and older who were diagnosed with in the stated between from 2009 and 2018.

The study' s findings led researchers to question US cervical cancer screening guidelines.

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Its lead author, UC Davis senior statistician Julianne Cooley, said: “Our findings highlight the need to better understand how current screening guidelines might be failing women 65 and over.”

Current US cervical cancer guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you get a human papillomavirus (HPV) or Pap test if you're between 21 and 65.

Guidelines in the UK are similar – the NHS sends letter invites for cervix health checks to all women aged 25 to 64.

But uptake rates have not been what they should be.

In January, the NHS put out a call for women to come forward for a cervical screening, after a third of those eligible – some 4.6million — failed to take up the latest test.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally and around 3,000 cases are diagnosed each year in Britain.

Most cases occur in women aged 30 to 34, according to Cancer Research UK.

Cervical cancer is a cancer that’s found anywhere in the cervix, which is the opening between the vagina and the womb (uterus).

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by an infection from certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) – but they can often be prevented by attending a cervical screening.

Symptoms include:

  1. vaginal bleeding that's unusual for you – including during or after sex, between your periods or after the menopause. You might also have heavier periods than usual
  2. changes to your vaginal discharge
  3. pain during sex
  4. pain in your lower back, between your hip bones (pelvis), or in your lower tummy

It's important to get checked by a GP if you have these symptoms, NHS guidance recommends.

You may be used to symptoms like these if you have fibroids or endometriosis, but it's important get checked if they change or get worse.

There's no need to be embarrassed – whoever is examining you will be used to doing it and talking about these symptoms. You can also ask for a female doctor to examine you when booking your appointment.

They might:

  • look at the outside of your vagina (vulva)
  • feel inside your vagina with 2 fingers while pressing on your tummy (they will be wearing gloves)
  • gently put a smooth, tube-shaped tool (a speculum) into your vagina so they can see your cervix
  • take a small sample of cells from your cervix using a soft brush

You can ask the doctor to stop at any time.

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If the virus is found, the sample is tested to see if the cells have shown signs of change, which can be treated before they turn into cancer.

More information on how to book a cervical screening can be found here.

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