Smears Aren’t Scary, They’re Life Saving: Let’s Talk Cervical Cancer

Every day in the UK, eight women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three will lose their lives to the disease. It’s hard to fathom that cervical cancer still claims the lives of around 1000 women in the UK every single year, but research has shown that one in five women don’t attend their screening appointments when invited. It’s an illness that is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme, but the uptake of smear tests is now decreasing year on year as we become complacent and ‘too busy’ to attend appointments. Although smear tests aren’t enjoyable, they’re so quick and painless that we should all be making the time to get tested and look after our health. However, it seems that we all make excuses to delay our appointments – from not having the time, blaming work commitments, not being able to get a convenient appointment or simply prioritising everything else over a smear. Today marks the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, an initiative from Jo’s Trust to help raise awareness of the importance of smear tests and the symptoms associated with cervical cancer, and it’s something I’m wholeheartedly supporting.

I know from personal experience how booking a check-up can become an inconvenience and something that slips
to the bottom of your priority list, especially because doctors appointments often require time off work. However, early detection and education is key in increasing survival rates; Cervical Cancer Prevention Week provides us with an opportunity to open up the discussion around cervical screening and cancer in order to prevent any more women suffering because of a largerly preventable disease. I’ve been extremely open about my medical history, sharing my experience of smears, what happens when the results don’t come back normal and undergoing a procedure to remove pre-cancerous cells from my cervix. I’ve supported the GSK ‘Time To Test‘ initiative, spoken on the Sky News network about the importance of attending appointments and been able to support a huge number of readers through similar experiences. Suffice to say that I believe every woman should take responsibility for their own health; smear tests aren’t scary, but the result could be if you don’t attend them regularly.

This week Jo’s Trust are campaigning for women to understand the importance of cervical screening, as well as continuing their support of those that have been struck down with the disease. They’re raising funds to offer a helping hand to those women that need someone to talk to, as well as focusing upon education – if we don’t understand the health roulette we’re playing by not attending, how can we start to attempt to wipe out such a devastating illness? Smear tests take less time than boiling the kettle and are nowhere near as embarrassing as you may think; they’re swift, discrete and painless, but they could also potentially save your life. If you do one thing this week, then make sure it’s checking when your last smear test was or booking that appointment you’ve been putting off… Your lady bits will thank you for it in the years to come.

To donate to Jo’s Trust, text JOTR01 followed by the amount you would like to donate (including the £ sign) to 70070 – for example: JOTR01 £5.

Find out more about the work Jo’s Trust does via their website.



  1. Samantha Brooks
    January 25, 2015 / 12:03 pm

    This is such a great post! I'm a couple of years off being invited for a smear test.. but I almost can't wait for the day to come. Not because I wont find it awkward or embarrassing – I'm 100% sure I will – but it's such an important thing to have done. I've read all to many stories about young women losing their lift to this illness & it's so so sad. Luckily I fell into the age category for the HPV vaccine & had the injections when I was in sixth form. But I'd like to think I'd still jump at the chance to have my test. Thank-you for raising this awareness and brining such an important issue to light. xx

  2. daisybeebee
    January 25, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    Great article , was only discussing this with my friend last week, it saddens me that too many women find time to have their nails done or spend hours on social media yet neglect something so important. Keep up the good work, love your blog @aceso84

  3. Amanda Alston
    January 25, 2015 / 12:56 pm

    Great post! I'm quite amazed to hear that 1 in 5 women don't go. I turned 25 last year and booked/went to an appointment straight away. It's not the most exciting thing to do or talk about, but my goodness is it important! I really want to back up your post to urge other women to definitely bite the bullet and get it done.Amanda / Amanda Alston

  4. Kiss & Make-up
    January 25, 2015 / 1:18 pm

    I had a health scare a couple of years ago but everything is fine now. It's not always in the back of my mind though, so I go for regular smears and checkups. When I moved my new gynecologist said 'I didn't need to have smear test every year since I'm still so young' but I insist to have one anyway at least once a year.

  5. Elaine McLaren-Rowley
    January 25, 2015 / 4:10 pm

    I'll tell you what is scary. Being told you have cervical cancer and need an immediate radical hysterectomy. That's what happened to be because I was ''too scared'' to go for smear tests. Which I can promise you are NOTHING compared to what I went through. Go for your smears and don't be an idiot and gamble with your life like I did.

  6. Petite Pomme
    January 25, 2015 / 9:14 pm

    Such a great post, about something that is so important. In Scotland in the age women are invited for a smear test is 20, whereas in England it is still 25. You always think 'it won't be me', but when you talk about it with other women, its quiet scary how many people have had abnormal cells found and have to under-go treatment to have the pre-cancer cells removed. Just goes to show how important it is to have the test!Petite Pomme

  7. Ana B
    January 26, 2015 / 6:48 am

    Great post! I have learned a lot here and it opened my eyes regarding the importance of pap smear. Cervical cancer is serious and we need to be serious about it too.

  8. Marie Sanderson
    January 26, 2015 / 1:44 pm

    I had my first smear 2 years ago and got the dreaded results "abnormal cells".. I went to hospital and I had CIN III the final stage before cancerous cells , I had to have laser treatment and this was my FIRST EVER smear so now I am horrified . I have to have yearly smears for the next 3 years. Although it's embarrassing getting a smear done it's not worth your life. If I had left my smear for another few months who knows what might have come from it. xox

  9. Anonymous
    January 27, 2015 / 9:44 am

    Great post. I can't believe people avoid their smear tests, yes I can imagine it's a bit embarrassing, but it could be life saving! I'm not 25 yet but I really wish I could have one done because there have been so many under 25s loosing their lives to cervical cancer recently, it's so scary. I hope your post and everything else being done to promote Cervical Cancer Prevention Week will encourage women to go for their tests and hopefully do something to make the age limit be reduced or removed!

  10. Birdie
    January 27, 2015 / 11:08 pm

    A brilliant post – I dodged my smear tests for a decade and ended up having a preventative hysterectomy. If I'd gone and been checked sooner, they would have been able to treat it far less dramatically. Friends have had fantastically successful treatment that was not invasive. So go! get your smear done. 🙂

  11. Leanne Marshall
    January 28, 2015 / 1:56 pm

    Hey Heyley. I went for my first smear test yesterday – Did not hurt at all!!! I can not understand why women miss this FREE opertunity. Most contries would have to pay a lot of money for the services we get here in the UK! It saves lives – get it done ladies! Leanne

  12. Jo
    February 3, 2015 / 12:20 pm

    What a great thing to write about – Not everything that needs to be done can be lpleasant but it's so important. I've yet to experience a smear test but they day is fast approaching and, although I'm nervous, I won't think twice about going.Jo x She Wears Burgundy

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