Cervical Cancer Home Testing Kits
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and is nearly always caused by infection with Human papillomavirus (HPV). Currently, there are in excess of 3,200 diagnosis of cervical cancer made in the UK every year. If cervical cancer, or any kind of cancer, is caught early, there is a much higher chance of the patient making a full recovery as the treatment options and efficacy will be greater. The most common way to detect Cervical Cancer early is cervical screening in which the health of the cervix is checked usually by a general practice nurse.
The NHS has recently announced that more than 31,000 women will be offered home testing kits in a trial where they can undertake their cervical screening in the privacy of their own home. Swab tests will be posted to 19,000 women, aged between 25 and 64, who are 15 months overdue for their smear tests. A further 12,000 tests will be provided to women who are at least six months overdue for screening.
NHS England said the move could help detect some cancers earlier, making them easier to treat and helping to cut deaths.
Dr Anita Lim, from King’s College London, who is leading the study, said:
“Self-sampling is a game-changer for cervical screening. We know many women aren't coming for cervical screening or what is often referred to as the ‘smear test’. Almost half of women in some parts of London aren't up to date.
“A variety of barriers can stop women from coming, even though it can be a life-saving test. These could be for physical, practical or personal reasons, as well as social or cultural taboo.”
“Women who don’t come for regular screening are at the highest risk of developing cervical cancer. It is crucial that we find ways to make cervical screening easier for women to ensure that they are protected from what is a largely preventable cancer.”
NHS national clinical director for cancer, Professor Peter Johnson, said:
“This is an important new way to make screening easier for thousands of women. We know there are lots of reasons why women might not attend a screening appointment, including worries about Covid.
“GPs have taken extra precautions to make surgeries safe, and these home kits give thousands of women another option to keep up to date with their screening. We would urge every woman to make sure they have their smear test – the earlier HPV is detected the better. It could save your life.”
Although the NHS has urged patients not to delay attending their GP surgery if they have any worrying symptoms, there have been grave delays in treatment given following diagnosis as a result of the Coronavirus. Cancer Research UK has advised that 40,000 fewer people starting cancer treatment across the UK in 2020.
Home Testing may be an innovative answer to women who are embarrassed or scared to attend a cervical screening test, however we must ask what the limitations of this test will be. How will women be guided on taking the test correctly and how will this affect the accuracy of the test? Also, a full screening test looks for any irregularities in addition to any possible cancer concerns and this will be an advantage that women will potentially be losing out on. The accuracy and efficacy of the testing remains to be seen.
If you or someone you love has received a late diagnosis of cervical cancer, please call Swain & Co’s team of experienced medical negligence lawyers who regularly advise and represent people in cases relating to delayed diagnosis.
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