Gynaecology Oncology news and patient stories

Mum urges others to attend cervical screening after cancer diagnosis

Michelle Camm

A mum of two who was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer, despite not having any symptoms, has urged women to attend vital screening.

Michelle Camm was delivered the shock news that she had Stage 3c cervical cancer in July 2020.

During a smear test types of human papillomavirus (HPV) were discovered in Michelle’s cervix, which is the main cause of cervical cancer. Other than this, Michelle said she displayed no other symptoms until a few months later when she suffered a bleed during intercourse.

After going to see the GP she was referred to Royal Derby Hospital where she underwent further tests before being diagnosed.

She has since been treated with courses of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy and released a book about her cervical cancer journey.

Michelle said: "I was totally healthy, so it felt like a bereavement to be told I had cancer. I had no symptoms at all and that is why it can be a silent killer."

Michelle said she always attended cervical screening appointments when invited and that helped her come to terms with her diagnosis.

She said: "I think one of the reasons I coped so well was because I knew I had been for my screenings and done all that I could to prevent cervical cancer.

"It was so scary to be laying in that MRI machine but I know that if I hadn’t gone for that check-up I would have been filled with regret and guilt to have put my family through such worry."

Since Michelle's diagnosis she has been an advocate for the screening process and urges those who are invited to attend screening to make sure they go.

She said: "Prevention is better than cure. The idea of screening is to detect the HPV virus and abnormal cells but screening is like a dental appointment - just because you go to the dentist for a check-up it doesn't mean you'll avoid tooth decay. If you attend cervical screening at least you have done all you can to avoid this type of cancer.

"You must attend the screening when invited and get your HPV vaccination if you can. If you don’t want to do it for yourself do it for your children and your loved ones, otherwise it might be too late.

"Screening is free and it can save your life. You cannot see your cervix and you do not know what is happening there and whether it's healthy or not, so attend your appointment and get that reassurance. If it is the same news I had at least you know and can get the treatment you need.

"These amazing tests are at our fingertips so just do your bit and use them."

Cervical screening is a free NHS test that helps to prevent cervical cancer, however 1 in 3 eligible people across England do not attend when invited to go for screening.

The cervical screening test, more commonly known as the 'cervical smear test', checks for a virus called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and any associated cell changes, which can then be treated to prevent cancer from developing. Along with the HPV vaccine, cervical screening is the best way to protect against cervical cancer. Anyone in England with a cervix is automatically invited for cervical screening, at 3 yearly intervals between the ages of 25 and 49 and every five years for those aged between 50 and 64.

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