AIBU to be really pee'd off about the Sophie Jones petition?

(71 Posts)
creampie Tue 18-Mar-14 22:04:40

This poor girl appears to have died from cervical cancer following delayed diagnosis. She apparently presented at her GPs surgery asking for a smear test, but was denied one on the basis that she was too young for it to be warranted. Since her death, her family are campaigning for smear tests to be offered to all girls from 16 up.

When someone dies, I understand families are desperate to make that death meaningful, and campaigns like this seem like a good idea, but there are so many holes in this story that I'm amazed it's made it anywhere near a newspaper. It's also floating its way around Facebook.

Firstly, smear testing is incredibly unreliable in under 25s, to the point where any results are pretty meaningless. Secondly, it's not a test for cancer, it's a test for abnormal cells in a population with no symptoms. Anyone who has symptoms, as Sophie did, should be offered something completely different (I'm not sure whether she was offered this or not, which is something they would have every right to be angry about if not) in order to look for cervical cancer. Why has no one pointed this out to the campaigners? Or if they have, why is there a petition for this?

I'm not sure whether I'm more cross about the 130,000 odd signatures from people who are advocating action on something that they don't really understand, or the appalling media mis-reporting, which suggests smear tests would have helped. Honestly, why do people think that their opinion should have any bearing on health policy? I don't think my opinion should have any bearing on agricultural policy, for example, because I know naff all about it. Why is health so different?

AIBU to be cross with the media and the starters of this campaign (although slightly more sympathetic with these) for starting a campaign based on very little evidence, knowing that gp surgeries across the country are now going to be inundated with requests from the worried well?

schlurplethepurple Tue 18-Mar-14 22:10:35

YANBU. Thank you so much for posting this.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 18-Mar-14 22:11:37

YANBU, but I expect you are about to get flamed to hell and back.

What could usefully happen is an increase in awareness of cervical cancer among very young women. I think that the fact that smear tests are only available for the over 25s has muddied the water. It is simply that the testing method is not useful before that age, not that women under 25 cannot get cervical cancer.

It is horrific that she was suffering from symptoms and never properly investigated. That really does need addressing.

creampie Tue 18-Mar-14 22:18:39

Exactly, her care may have fallen short, but is a completely seperate matter to whether or not smear tests should be offered to under 25s.

The two are unrelated, I have no idea why one should follow the other.

pyjamaramadrama Tue 18-Mar-14 22:24:45

Totally agree yanbu. This was a separate issue.

Perhaps more awareness of symptoms of cervical cancer and proper checks for those displaying symptoms would be more useful.

CaffeineDeficit Tue 18-Mar-14 22:34:01

YANBU. My understanding is that smear tests in the under 25s would lead to a lot of women undergoing treatment that they don't actually need, as many apparently abnormal cells in the cervix will revert to normal left to their own devices in younger women. Given that the treatment can adversely affect women's ability to get pregnant, we're not talking about a minor side effect.

However, my heart goes out to Sophie Jones's family and friends. It seems to me that the issue is that she didn't get the referral to a gynaecologist/oncologist that she needed soon enough, and it's the reasons for this that need to be tackled to reduce the chances of any other woman experiencing the same fate.

SilverHoney Tue 18-Mar-14 22:39:27

Heard her Mum speak on a Radio news clip today, and she sounded very clear and realistic about what she was hoping to achieve. During the interview she was simply promting that if someone's symptoms suggest Cervial Cancer, that it might be a good idea to check for Cervival Cancer - regardless of their age. I don't think she's campaining for the smear test age to be lowered to 16, just that those who are concerned can have access if they wish to.

PoppyFleur Tue 18-Mar-14 22:39:35

OP - really good post. YANBU.

EvaBeaversProtege Tue 18-Mar-14 22:41:33

YANBU. Agree totally.

creampie Tue 18-Mar-14 22:42:46

But if people have a reason to be concerned, if they have symptoms that may point to cervical cancer, then they need colposcopy, not a smear.

A smear is only for the normal population, who have no symptoms.

As suggested above, education on the symptoms of cervical cancer would be more useful. I'm not sure why they aren't campaigning for that

picnicbasketcase Tue 18-Mar-14 22:43:22

There is no way that anyone should be denied whatever examination and investigation is possible if there are concerns or symptoms, obviously. That doesn't necessarily mean that screening should be rolled out to everyone over 16 though.

Yanbu. Thank you for expressing this so clearly.

softlysoftly Tue 18-Mar-14 22:45:00

YANBU but then the majority of these petitions seem to be badly thought out and knee jerk.

Take the "ban halal slaughter" petition, irritates the shit out of me. A "ban slaughter without stunning" petition would be logical but most halal meat is prestunned anyway so done in exactly the same way as every other slaughter.

So you either want the banning of ALL slaughter or the banning of NON stun slaughter which is it confused

Ahem anyway yes yet another pointless non factually based petition however sad the reasoning for it.

creampie Tue 18-Mar-14 22:45:28

[slowly removes fire-retardant jacket in the belief that the expected flaming may not materialise!]

assuming the campaign is that screening should be rolled out to everyone 16+ then yanbu.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 18-Mar-14 22:52:10

A friend of dhs family died a few years ago having been denied any kind of testing. By the time she was diagnosed it was too late. She left behind a pre school little girl. She was in her very early 20s

My head says yanbu but my heart says something needs to change.

PleaseNoMoreMinecraft Tue 18-Mar-14 23:07:05

Totally agree, YANBU. Inappropriate tests waste scarce NHS resources that could be better used elsewhere.

Belalug0si Tue 18-Mar-14 23:09:38

These are the guidelines for investigating bleeding in young women.
Using a cervical screening test will not help the majority of young women in these rare cases, presenting with cervical cancer at a young age. The symptoms are often non-specific, that using a cervical screening test could actually be misleading.
Screening programmes are designed on a population basis, so although incredibly sad, to find the small numbers of younger women with cancer would need many times more women potentially over investigated.

Things ARE changing. My older daughters, in common with many of their generation, have been vaccinated against HPV.

FuzzyWuzzywasaWoman Tue 18-Mar-14 23:32:27

Yanbu for all the reasons stated in your op. I wish I was brave enough to post this on someone's "campaign" fb post but I fear it would fall on deaf ears. Also I'm too busy ranting on fb about no make up nomination posts angry

SapphireMoon Wed 19-Mar-14 06:43:29

I am in my 40s and had my first smear test at 18. The policy then was 'as soon as you become sexually active'.
Maybe waiting for symptoms is too late?
Maybe work should be happening to improve smear test/ make more sensitive etc [sure it is being explored....].
Tough one this.
This girl sounds let down and it cost her her life.

Flicktheswitch Wed 19-Mar-14 06:46:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Kundry Wed 19-Mar-14 07:08:44

YANBU - many of the abnormal tests under the age of 25 simply show cells that would have returned to normal if left alone leading to women having unnecessary treatment. The test simply isn't reliable in younger women.

MiniSoksMakeHardWork Wed 19-Mar-14 08:21:54

When I was younger smears were done either aged 25 of when you became sexually active, whichever came first. Which is a bit daft considering the age of consent is so much younger.

Something has to change. Whether it's a more reliable test developing or simply understanding that young women do actually understand their own body pretty well I don't know.

I was told by my NHS midwives that I must have a smear as I have had a child and abnormal cells have a nasty habit of springing up in all the women in my family.
I was told by the doctor, when I asked, that in no uncertain terms would I be given one until I was 25.
It seems that the advice within the NHS isn't that clear either!

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