This blog is written by our clinicians and aims to keep patients informed with up to date information on medical conditions.
The cervix is part of the female reproductive system. It is located between the vagina and the uterus (womb) and is often referred to as the neck of the womb.
How common is cervical cancer?
There are 3200 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed every year in the UK. This means that 9 people are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day. (1)
Anyone with a cervix can develop cervical cancer, including women, trans men, non-binary people, and intersex people.
The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection with a virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV Infection and Cervical Cancer
Specific types of the human papillomavirus can cause cervical cancer. HPV16 and HPV18 are responsible for the most cases of cervical cancer.
You can get HPV from sexual contact, including non-penetrative sexual contact. For example, you can contract HPV from oral sex, sharing sex toys, or having skin-to-skin genital contact.
HPV infects the cervical cells, causing precancerous changes. If left untreated, these precancerous changes can progress to cancer.
Cervical screening focuses on detecting HPV before cancer develops.
Previously, doctors used to use cytology for cervical screening. This involved taking a sample of cells from the cervix and looking at them under a microscope to look for precancerous changes.
Based on new evidence, it’s now recommended that doctors use HPV detection. This method involves taking a swab from the cervix, and testing it for HPV infection. If HPV is detected then the swab sample is checked for cervical cell changes.
If cervical cell changes are found then these can be treated before they progress and turn into cancer.
Cervical Screening at ROC
We offer cervical screening using HPV detection. If HPV is detected then our labs will check the swab for cervical cell changes at no additional cost.
In addition to testing for HPV, we can also test the sample for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Some people choose to add these tests on if they’ve recently changed sexual partners, or simply for additional peace of mind.
We also offer a self-swab service. You will be sent a swab kit which you use to take your own swab before posting it back to us for testing. This is suitable for people who live in remote locations, or those who simply would prefer to swab themselves rather than attend a clinic.
How can ROC help if you’re worried about cancer?
We know how important having peace of mind about your health is. At ROC we offer screening for a number of cancers. Our team of experienced clinicians are here to help. Give us a call today!
(1) Cervical cancer statistics. Cancer Research UK. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/cervical-cancer#heading-Zero. Published 2022. Accessed March 09, 2022.