EXPERIENCING discharge down below is normal – and it's something everyone has to deal with.
It's important that you get to know your body and what's right for you – as this will help you spot any deadly signs of cancer.
Cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer in women in the UK – with around 3,200 people being diagnosed each year.
There are no obvious symptoms during the early stages of the illness – that's why it's best to keep up with your smears when reminded by your GP.
However, the NHS says that one of the key signs is 'changes to your vaginal discharge'.
This refers to the texture, colour and consistency of the discharge – but also the smell.
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Experts at Cancer Research UK state: "Some women also have: a vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant and pain in the area between the hip bones."
That being said, a change in discharge isn't always down to cancer, and you should see your GP or visit a sexual health clinic if you are concerned.
Discharge isn't the only indicator and other key signs include:
- Pain and discomfort during sex
- Vaginal bleeding after sex, between periods or after menopause
- Pain in your lower back or pelvis
- Severe pain in your side or back caused by your kidneys
- Peeing or pooing more than usual
- Losing control of your bladder or bowels
- Blood in your pee
- Swelling in one or both legs
- Severe vaginal bleeding
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One of the easiest ways to detect and prevent cervical cancer, is to get your smear test.
They are a preventative swab used to detect abnormal cells on the cervix – the entrance to the womb from the vagina.
Detecting these cells and then removing them can prevent cervical cancer. It’s not a test for cervical cancer itself.
Most women’s results show everything is totally normal – the test picks up abnormalities in around one in 20 women.
Cervical screening is carried out under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, which was introduced in the 1980s.
Every woman over the age of 25 who has a GP is invited for screening – and it doesn’t matter if you’re sexually active or not.
What are the odds of overcoming cervical cancer?
Fortunately, the condition is almost completely preventable and can be forecast with regular smear tests.
And, even if you – or a loved one – is diagnosed, it has an average survival rate of 51 per cent, according to a the stats from 2013-2017 in England.
For women who have stage 1 of the disease, survival for more than five years can be 99 per cent.
For stage 2, that becomes 60-90 per cent, while stage 3 is 30-50 per cent.
Those with stage 4 cervical cancer have a one-in-five chance of combating the illness and living more than half a decade.
It is possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, but it’s extremely rare in women under 25.
Earlier this year medics warned that millions of women across the UK could be at risk of the illness – after 37 per cent of those aged 25-34 said restrictions had impacted or delayed them being able to book their smear test.
In those aged 35-44, 43 per cent said the pandemic had meant they also had not attended a screening appointment.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Medical Director for Primary Care at NHS England, said: “There is no doubt about it – cervical screening saves lives.
"By screening for risk signs at an early stage, it means that any abnormal cells can be treated quickly before they potentially develop into cancer.
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“We know that it can feel embarrassing or feel like something that you can easily put off, but accepting your invite and getting checked could save your life.
"And please do speak to your GP practice about any concerns you might have – we are here to help you.”
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