HPV vaccinations, cervical screenings and treatment for cell changes are all available to prevent and cure cervical cancer, when women and people with a cervix attend their free screening appointments.
‘The earlier we know about any changes, the earlier we can refer to a specialist and prevention and early protection is really important,’ said Di Mathews, strategic screening lead.
‘The nurses are all approachable and they’re trained to put people at ease, and deal with each person’s concerns individually.’
Cervical screening, also known as smear tests, detects HPV, a viral infection passed between people through skin-to-skin and sexual contact, which is the main cause of cervical cancer.
If HPV is detected, the screening sample will be checked for any underlying abnormalities of the cervical cells.
Four of out five women take up their cervical screening invitation, but the campaign sets out to encourage all eligible islanders to attend their screenings regularly, as HPV can lie dormant for many years.
They are scheduled for every three years for those aged 25 to 50 years old, and every five years for those aged 50 to 64.
Cervical screening was made free in 2019, but the Orchard Centre still receives queries about the cost of the examination.
‘Fear and cost are the barriers we wish to move, but there are free screenings with a nurse for islanders in Guernsey and Alderney,’ said Laura Brouard, Orchard Centre manager and sexual health nurse.
‘We will speak through each person’s individual concerns and answer their questions, and there is always the option to come back.’
The test can be done any day a person is not on their period.
The best time to attend is mid-cycle – 10 to 14 days after the first day of the period.
The test only takes a few minutes. While it can be uncomfortable, it should not be painful.
Cervical screenings can be done at the Orchard Centre at the hospital, Choices, or doctors’ surgeries.