A leading cancer charity has visited UHDB to see the cervical cancer screening lab in action that serves the whole of the East Midlands.
The visit happened as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (23 January-29 January), which aims to raise awareness and increase the number of women getting screened for the preventable disease.
One of the UK's leading charities who support this campaign is Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and the CEO, Sam Dixon and colleague Hannah Dwyer paid a visit to the cervical screening lab at Royal Derby Hospital (RDH) last week to take a look at the incredible work being done to prevent cervical cancer among women in our communities.
Since 2019 the cytology laboratory at RDH has been the cervical screening centre for the whole of the East Midlands region, covering an area from Buxton in the north to Northampton in the south, and from Uttoxeter in the west to Skegness in the east. The cervical screening lab processes more than 300,000 cervical screening tests a year.
Alison Cropper, Consultant Biomedical Scientist and Cervical Screening Programme Lead for UHDB said it was a pleasure to welcome Sam to the department and showcase the HPV testing and cervical cytology screening done at the Trust by an amazing team of around 60 staff.
She said: "It's been incredible to host the visit and explain the whole process of screening and the positive impact it can have.
"The work that Jo's Trust does to raise the profile of screening and how it can prevent cervical cancer is fabulous and everybody in the screening programme totally appreciates the role of Jo's Trust and we signpost to their website all the time.
"It is about working together to increase uptake of the screening which really can help save lives."
50 cases of cervical cancer were histologically diagnosed across UHDB alone in 2021/2022 for women covered by UHDB colposcopy and gynaecology services; 20 of these women had never been screened or had not attended regularly for screening. 30 of the cancers were detected by cervical screening, and these were mainly found at an early stage and were treatable. However, prevention is key, and cervical screening has been proven to prevent over 70 per cent of cases.
Sam Dixon, said: "Visiting UHDB has been absolutely fascinating and we're very grateful to the team here for the hospitality they have shown us. I think sometimes it's easy to forget how much work goes on behind the scenes to deliver a test result. There is so much expertise behind the scenes in these hospitals and labs to make sure that women get as accurate a result as possible as quickly as possible, without compromising on high standards.
"Cervical screening saves lives, it’s a really important test but worryingly 1 in 3 women or people with a cervix aren’t attending screening when invited - there are many reasons for that and some of them are quite complex. It is important that we don’t blame and shame them, we understand what those reasons are and we provide help and support to encourage them to go to screening. Ultimately the doctors and nurses want you to attend screening and want to make the experience as accommodating as possible so that you go back every time you are invited.
"This is the first cancer, the only cancer where we have the tools to eliminate a cancer type in the future but that relies on people taking action so it's really important we increase the number of women going for cervical cancer screening and the uptake of HPV vaccinations. It’s the best chance we've got."
What is cervical screening?
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.