Supporting Cervical Cancer Awareness Week – January 23rd-29th
Cervical cancer is when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way and eventually form a tumour. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by an infection from certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
If you are found to have abnormal cells in your cervix you will be referred for a colposcopy to have a closer look at your cervix and you may require a biopsy.
Cervical cancer can often be prevented by attending cervical screening, which aims to find and treat changes to cells before they turn into cancer. Cervical cancer usually grows very slowly, however if it is not caught early enough cancer cells will gradually grow into the surrounding tissues and may spread to other areas of the body.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
The main symptoms of cervical cancer include:
- Changes to your vaginal discharge
- Pain during sex
- Pain in your lower back, pelvis or lower abdomen
- Vaginal bleeding which is unusual for you (such as bleeding after sex, between your periods or having heavier periods than usual)
These symptoms can also be caused by many different conditions, it is therefore important that you speak with your GP if you experience any of the above.
Who is more likely to get cervical cancer?
Anyone with a cervix can get cervical cancer, however you may be more likely to get cervical cancer if:
- You are under 45 years old
- You have a weakened immune system
- You have given birth to multiple children
- You had children at an early age (under 17 years old)
- You’ve had vaginal, vulval, kidney or bladder cancer
- Your mother took the hormonal medicine diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnant with you
How can you lower the risk of getting cervical cancer?
Cervical screening and HPV vaccination are the best ways to lower your chances of getting cervical cancer. Everyone with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited for regular cervical screening. All children aged 12 to 13 are offered the HPV vaccine.
You can also lower your chances of getting cervical cancer by:
- Using condoms which lower your chances of getting HPV
- Quitting smoking – smoking can weaken your immune system and the chemicals in cigarettes can also cause cervical cancer
- Eating a balanced diet to support your immune system
What if there is a delay in diagnosing cervical cancer?
Unfortunately, there are occasions when a diagnosis of cervical cancer is missed or delayed. In these circumstances the patient may suffer harm because of the lack of timely intervention. If this can be proved it may be possible to bring a medical negligence claim.
You may be able to pursue a clinical negligence claim if you have attended the GP repeatedly complaining of persistent or worsening symptoms which should have been investigated further. Negligence can also occur when medical professionals misinterpret test results, or when test results are lost and there are delays in obtaining new samples.
Sadly we have been instructed in many cases where there is a terminal diagnosis or in cases brought by the surviving partner or children on behalf of their wife/mother who are concerned about the delays in diagnosis and treatment, despite early presentation to a doctor.
If you or a loved one have suffered harm because of a delayed or missed diagnosis you may feel angry and let down by medical professionals and worried about the future. By making a claim, we can assist you secure compensation, which will ease the financial burden.