Women across the East London Line boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets are being urged this week to protect themselves from cervical cancer, as part of European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.In Hackney, the City and Hackney Health Trust is informing its female residents of the available methods of detection and prevention of cervical cancer on its website and at local schools.
Jose Figueroa, deputy director of Public Health for City and Hackney said: “We routinely provide the vaccine through school nurses to girls in year eight (aged 12-13). We also offer the vaccine to all girls up to 18 years of age through schools, colleges, and GP practices.”
“Vaccination helps prevent HPV [the human papillomavirus] while cervical screening, sometimes called a smear test, can detect early changes in the cervix, which can be treated before they develop into cervical cancer,” he said.
Lewisham council is seeking to expand their current vaccination programme. Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Robert Massey recently told a council meeting: “Later this month, we will move to extend the campaign to older girls, and are considering to maximise uptake in schools. We will be asking GPs to immunise girls who have already left school.”
A series of information stalls will be set up throughout Tower Hamlets, to tell women about the benefits of the vaccination. The Tower Hamlets Community Health Services cancer screening team will be distributing information to local women at different locations in the borough over the next two weeks. The first event in Tower Hamlets was held on Friday 29 January.
The human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease, can lead to cervical cancer. The disease is very common and it is estimated that it will infect over half of all sexually active women.
Boroughs nationwide generally run HPV vaccination programmes for adolescents. The vaccine, which consists of three doses, protects against the two strains of HPV that account for 70 per cent of all cervical cancer cases in women.
All women aged 25 and under 64 are generally offered a cervical screening test by their GP, which as a result saves an estimated 4,500 lives each year. However, many appointments are missed and therefore women are being advised to contact their local GP and protect themselves.
Screenings in Tower Hamlets run until 5 February. For more information on cervical cancer or events surrounding the European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, visit your borough’s NHS website, contact your local GP or go to www.nhs.uk