Last July, I had my second cervical screening test and within a week I received a phone call from my local gynaecological department informing me that an appointment had been made for me to have follow up biopsies taken. My screening test revealed high grade abnormal cells were found in my cervix. I was taken aback because my first screening test done three years prior had come back normal. Within three months, I had three appointments with the gynaecologist and at the end of October, I had a 15 minute day procedure done under general anaesthetic called LLETZ (Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone) to remove the abnormal cells from my cervix. Last month, my six month follow up confirmed that the abnormal cells have not returned and I will have my next screening in three years.
Cervical cancer is one of the three most common cancers affecting women aged 15 to 49. The cervical screening test is the only programme that detects precancerous cells before they become malignant. The NHS advise for women who have been sexually active (this includes women of all sexual orientations and transgender, those who have been active in foreplay, oral sex or used sex toys) from the age of 25 - 49 to have their cervical screening test done every three years. The screening programme now incorporates tests that identify the presence of strains of the Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) that are linked to the development of cervical cancer if left untreated.