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The 'C' Word: come and post your questions about cervical cancer for the experts at Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust

(43 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 19-Oct-10 12:01:07

We do hope you've been following our 'C' Word campaign, which has been raising awareness of the three key cancers which primarily affect women: breast, ovarian, and cervical.

Thanks to everyone who's posted questions so far - do come and browse the breast cancer Q&A, and the ovarian cancer Q&A to see our experts' answers.

Now it's time for our last Q&A thread - this time it's about cervical cancer, in partnership with Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.

Cervical cancer is a largely preventable disease - the National Cervical Screening programme now saves some 4,500 lives every year. Nevertheless, eight women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day, and face an uncertain future.

If you're unsure what the symptoms are, are worried about your chances of contracting cervical cancer, or you've been diagnosed and want to know more about treatment, please do post your questions for the experts at Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust here.

Post your questions by the end of Friday please - the team will get the answers back to us as quickly as they possibly can, so do keep an eye out.

Thanks again to everyone who's posted so far - and to the four fabulous charities who have taken part: Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Care, Ovarian Cancer Action, and Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.

I'd like to ask how much a risk there is of getting cervical cancer because I take tamoxifen

MeganMog Tue 19-Oct-10 15:21:32

I was found to have CIN2 cells several years ago shortly after 2 clear cervical smears, (I was referred as had abnormal bleeding). I had treatment, and I now have annual smears, but am concerned that as the smears didn't pick up the CIN2 before, that they may not again. The consultant did say that the virus type was a slow variety, which is something. Is just having regular smears sufficient?

If cervical cancer is caused by a sexually transmitted virus, why can't men be vaccinated instead of women? It seems wrong to make it women's responsibility, we already have childbirth and in the majority of cases, contraception to worry about.

readinginsteadnowisundeadnow Tue 19-Oct-10 17:45:01

What should I be doing to help myself, other than having a smear when its due?

snowmash Tue 19-Oct-10 17:58:38

As a disabled woman, what alternative positions can you ask to have a smear in, and where can I find good information on them to give to professionals?

[I haven't had as many smears as I should because education on this seems to vary]

maresedotes Tue 19-Oct-10 19:41:46

Why aren't women allowed to have a smear test before they are 25? If a woman is sexually active from 16 she will have to wait 9 years before having one. I read that it was unadvisable to have one before 25 as it would "do more harm than good" - can anyone explain that to me please? Thank you.

BelaLugosiISDED Tue 19-Oct-10 20:38:35

Minutes from the government committee meeting where the evidence for not screening the under 25s is reviewed. It's a useful document to read to understand the reasons why.

Reading: Risk of developing CIN can be cut by stopping smoking as it appears to slow down the body from getting rid of the HPV infection.

SnowmasH: Resource pack for sample takers. If you've found that certain positions are easier then perhaps make an appointment to discuss it beforehand rather than having to go through it at the time? It could also be worth seeing if you could be seen in colposcopy as the staff are used to seeing people who perhaps need a different position.

Meganmog: sometimes if there's a small area of CIN then it may not be picked on a smear test. Annual screening for 10 years as part of your follow up means that there is a far greater chance of another small lesion being detected. It does grow very slowly so the annual tests should be fine.

MaryAnne: as someone who works in cervical screening, tamoxifen isn't something that we've had flagged up to us as being associated with a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.

BelaLugosiISDED Tue 19-Oct-10 20:42:40

Useful links for cervical screening information:

NHS Cervical screening homepage
about screening
Leaflets in different languages. Also sign language DVD available and braille.
Colposcopy society website with useful information about abnormal tests, investgation (colposcopy) and treatment

frenchbulldog Tue 19-Oct-10 22:41:24

Do spermicides kill any or all of the HPV viruses? Especially if used with barrier contraception such as a condom?

Joolyjoolyjoo Tue 19-Oct-10 22:44:56

I had CIN 2 cells 2 years ago, after always having completely normal smears. I have been with my husband for 10 years, and neither of us has strayed (he swears!) so how could I have suddenly developed HPV?? Is it possible that either of us could have had the virus for so long, or should I be doubting his claims of fidelity?

BelaLugosiISDED Wed 20-Oct-10 07:22:00

HPV is as bit like chicken pox, you can catch it from non-sexual contact and it can hang around for years.
Most people have had HPV at some point in their lives and most clear the infection. In some the body doesn't clear the infection as well. Its thought to take at least 10 years for CIN to develop so an abnormal smear test doesn't mean (necessarily) a recent HPV infection.

Frenchbulldog: not to my knowledge, it is known that barrier contraception does not prevent HPV transmission because it is spread by skin to skin contact.

CMOTdibbler Wed 20-Oct-10 08:10:00

Don't you think the information about radiotherapy and Brachytherapy on your website should be up to date ?

Do you think that young women should be made aware of just how much smoking increases their risk of having cervical cancer ?

frenchbulldog Wed 20-Oct-10 10:43:31

So holding hands can give you cervical cancer?

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 20-Oct-10 13:01:53

Hello. Please can we remind you that this a thread for you to post questions for the experts at Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.

In other words, following the format of the other Q&As in our C Word campaign, this is a thread for questions - and we'll publish the experts' answers later.

We don't want to stop discussion, of course, but we think it's probably best to wait and let the experts answer the questions - rather than try to answer each other's questions for ourselves.

MIssAnneThrope Wed 20-Oct-10 14:21:53

How do the current NHS levels of screening for cervical cancer compare with other countries? In other words, should we be screened more regularly, and earlier age-wise than the NHS currently screens?

starbellysneetch Wed 20-Oct-10 14:27:52

Thanks very much for this.

I'd like to know if there is any connection between breast cancer and cervical cancer. I have a history of breast cancer in my family (not strong enough to get more frequent screening) - does this put me at higher risk of cervical cancer?

And to what extent does the number of partners one has had earlier in life impact on one's chances of developing cervical cancer post-35?

sarls Wed 20-Oct-10 14:33:47

I just wanted to find out why girls have to have the HPV jab so young? Is it not a bit too young?

BelaLugosiISDED Wed 20-Oct-10 14:35:40

Hi Helenmumsnet
Can I ask what the backgrounds are of the people at Jo's Trust who will be answering the questions? Are they medical, work in screening or health education, as its quite interesting to know their specialities. Thanks

Kentmumma Wed 20-Oct-10 14:36:56


I have recently been experiencing some bleeding after intercourse and wondered if this should give me cause for concern. My last smear, two years ago, was normal as were the ones before that so that's a good sign ...... isn't it ?

champagnesupernova Wed 20-Oct-10 14:51:21

Hi there
I know all about making sure I have regular smears - even though I DREAD them but what else can I be doing to prevent cervical cancer?

shantishanti Wed 20-Oct-10 15:01:39

I always thought that if I had regular smears it would stop me getting cervical cancer, but it didn't...and I've been wondering ever since why.

I had a clear smear, then my next routine one three years later picked up moderate changes, so I was referred for a colposcopy. By the time the appointment came round I realised I was pregnant so the consultant just monitored me throughout my pregnancy. He thought they were moderate changes, nothing to get too worried about.

But it turned out when I went back for treatment after having my baby that I had cancer.

So my question is, can pregnancy speed up the growth of cervical cancer? Or is there any other reason why it might have happened so quickly?

I was 30 at the time, non smoker, in relationship for 12 years, totally faithful confused

Unwind Wed 20-Oct-10 15:17:13

Is the risk associated with HPV taught to boys and girls in sex ed classes nowadays?

It certainly wasn't in my young day. We were taught that condoms would protect against STDs.

Unwind Wed 20-Oct-10 15:30:45

If I am allowed another question, surely testing for HPV, rather than such frequent smears ought to be an option?

Smears are horrible experiences for many women, perhaps especially for those who may have birth trauma. I know that the HPV test process for women is much the same as the standard smear, but I understand that it needs to be done much less often.

A high proportion of women over 35 are never have sex (>25%). Of those who are, they are often in long-term monogamous relationships, with someone that they trust. If you do not believe that you at any risk of catching HPV, surely testing in case you've already caught it, and then testing again 5 years later, if there has been some chance of exposure, would be a better use of resources, and would minimise the stress caused to those women who are at very low risk.

Perhaps men could be included in regular HPV testing, so they know if there is a risk of them passing it on.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 20-Oct-10 16:11:50

BellaLugosiISDED: Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is the UK's only charity dedicated to women, their families and friends affected by cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer.

You can find out more about them - and their experts here

And you can find their website here

BelaLugosiISDED Wed 20-Oct-10 17:59:02

Hi Helen
Thanks for the link - I wanted to check if there is someone from a screening lab on the panel, which there is.

snowmash Wed 20-Oct-10 19:08:22

Thanks Helenmumsnet for posting that reminder, as the poster trying to give information didn't answer my question.

wendihouse22 Wed 20-Oct-10 19:21:00

I'm 48. Ten years ago, I had CIN II which was only found on colonoscopy having had smears showing no abnormality or mild dyskariosis. I had laser to the cervix and then for two years or so, had more frequent smear tests. Then I joined the normal review which I believe is 3 years?

I am sceptical of smear tests. My question is, if I went for 2 years with nothing much showing, then leapt to CINII (and I read the bit about small lesions not always showing on smears) how do I know that all is GENUINELY Ok. I've been having irregular bleeding and have a dull ache constantly on my left lower abdomen. My smear of 6 months ago was normal but, I've been there before. I don't trust them!!

BelaLugosiISDED Wed 20-Oct-10 19:40:06

Couple of questions for the panel:

1. Do they favour HPV test as the primary screen, do they think it is useful as triage for low grade abnormalities and for test of cure?
2. Should there be an education campaign to increase public awareness of:
- what screening versus a diagnostic test is;
- the limitations of screening;
- the successes of the NHS CSP and how that influences policy decisions such as age at first/last screening and screening intervals
- what to do if they have symptoms that could be associated with cervical cancer (i.e. what investigations they should be able to expect to happen)
- What abnormal results mean (especially borderline changes)
- what treatment they can have and who to talk about their treatment


TheOldestCat Wed 20-Oct-10 19:57:26

Just spent a while reading your website, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. What an inspiration Jo was and her late husband too.

Anyway, like a couple of the previous posters, I too worry a little about smear tests. I'd always got the all-clear at regular smear tests, but when I did get an abnormal result, the precancerous cells were fairly advance (CIN III). My doctor said it would have taken several years to get to that stage, so why wasn't this picked up at an earlier smear? Or can changes occur more quickly?

I don't mean to sound ungrateful at all - in fact, I'm massively grateful that the changes were picked up, the abnormal cells removed and I've had the all-clear ever since. But is there anything else I can do, except have a smear every three years?


Meglet Wed 20-Oct-10 22:29:48

I had 2 LLETZ treatments for CIN3 and a hysterectomy last summer. My most recent colposcopy was fine, last one due next spring.

But, what happens if the dodgy cells start creeping back again now my cervix has gone? Would I end up with vaginal cancer confused.

I was going to ask my consultant next time I see him but would be interested to know sooner rather than later.

FWIW I first had sex at 22, 2 partners, regular smears and CIN3 at age 30. In theory I was very low risk but am now on first name terms with the gynea team at the hospital.

fridascruffs Thu 21-Oct-10 17:06:09

I had laser treatment to get rid of abnormal cells when I was about 25, I am now 45, and have had clear smear tests since. But can the infection come back again, or would I have to be reinfected? Is there any point in being vaccinated as an adult? (I am single)

GoldenGreen Thu 21-Oct-10 19:54:34

I have had two children via fertility treatment but have never had sex with a man. I had a clear smear test after my first child and plan to have another when it is next due. My question is - if that is clear, do I ever need bother again? (no more kids planned, am faithful to female partner!).

Sorry the qu is so specific to me but I've been wondering for some time. Thanks

GoldenGreen Thu 21-Oct-10 20:49:42

I have had two children via fertility treatment but have never had sex with a man. I had a clear smear test after my first child and plan to have another when it is next due. My question is - if that is clear, do I ever need bother again? (no more kids planned, am faithful to female partner!). Or should I be tested for hpv instead?

Sorry the qu is so specific to me but I've been wondering for some time. Thanks

pinguwings Thu 21-Oct-10 21:34:58

Sorry this is specific to me but I'm worried!

I am 21. Because of post-sex bleeding I went to the Drs and he said I have cervical erosion. He did a smear test as well.

Have found out, on internet, (I know I shouldn't have googled)that cervical erosion can lead to cervical cancer. Dismissed this, thinking I'm too young.

Anyway results from the Dr have come back inconclusive and they need me to do another smear test ASAP. What the hell does inconclusive mean? Did something go wrong with the test or do they need to double check or is something wrong?

sorry if I sound thick blush

I had cin 3 nearly 4 years ago, my smears since have been clear since treatment - is it only the hpv virus that causes this then?

If so is it from my husband, should he be tested in any way.... and can I do anything to minimise my risks of it returning? I am only 31 and am scared they may put me back to 3 years or I'll forget a smear and something awful will happen.

SoloBlackWidowSpidersWebSite Thu 21-Oct-10 23:04:46


It's always worried me when we are given a smear which comes back 'normal' and then three years later, we have the next. Surely if 6 months after a normal result smear test is given your cells begin to change, you are then in serious danger of developing cancer and even dying because of it. Why are smears done three years apart? surely doing them every 12 months or even 18 months would save many more lives?


blackcatonabroomstick Thu 21-Oct-10 23:24:44

i had pre cancerous cells removed at 21 and have been having yearly smears since. i changed my doctor last year and they said i was on three yearly smears again now. do you think this is right? i'm 37 now

leatra Fri 22-Oct-10 01:50:06

Hi My family have a history of breast cancer, I'm the only female in my entire famliy (and there's lots of us!) who does not carry the gene, should I worry about cervical cancer as I know there is a link. I have several very small fybroids and feel fine overall x

jibbet Fri 22-Oct-10 10:38:09

Some years ago, my smear test revealed bad cells. Immediately, the docs were gagging to lazer them. I said hang on a minute what are the repercussions? They listed the factors - e.g. bleeding, no sex for at least a month... and having just acquired a very hunky and desireable boyf, I wasn't keen. They then said, Well, it might get better on its own anyway.

However, I took action and looked up in my health bible, the fascinating and brilliant 'Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine' by the wonderful, sadly now deceased Dr Thomas Bartram. He suggested the use of Thuja tincture drops taken in water twice a day. Thuja is a shrub found in many English gardens, and is well-known in herbal medicine as a remedy for all sorts of complaints, particularly cervical cancer.
After that initial scare, I was tested frequently. Every time I have squamous cells in my tests, I dose myself with thuja and the problem disappears.

I was cured of Graves Disease, auto-immune thyrotoxicosis, by herbal medicine and a strict diet. My GP was amazed that I made such a swift recovery, but refused the details of my regime. (I thought he might suggest them to other sufferers) It's very disappointing that NHS doctors are determined not to open their minds to that very efficacious alternative, cheap and with has no side-effects - unlike Carbimazole, the drug meted out for hyperthyroidism, which I couldn't take because it killed off my white blood cells.

I'm also interested that thyroid problems seem massively on the increase. I thought my illness might have been caused by pesticide exposure as I live next to fields, regularly sprayed. Sure enough,in a recent newsletter, the Pesticide Exposure Information Service (PEX)revealed that a long-term study, since 1994, in the U.S., involving 89,000 participants, concluded that certain pesticides and fungicides cause thyroid disease particularly in women. The potatoes in the adjacent field were being sprayed frequently with fungicide the summer I'm sure I was exposed; shortly after, I began feeling the symptoms of Graves.

Also, in France, because of crop spraying, Parkinsons Disease is now regarded as an occupational hazard for farmers. Leukemia is another one.
Significantly due to the efforts of our own Georgina Downs, who was awarded Campaigner of the Year, the EU has directed agricultural spraying legislation which our government, due to NFU lobbying, refuses to accept.

Another scandal: Sweet Stevia, a herb widely used by diabetics, is sweeter than sugar but contains none. Monsanto coerced the US govt to ban it because it was reducing the sales of their artificial sweetners. It's now very difficult to get in this country.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 22-Oct-10 12:05:30

Hello all,

Thanks very much for your questions and comments. We're going to close the thread to new questions now, to allow the experts at Jo's Trust to get on with answering these. We'll post here to let you know when the answers are up.

Thanks also for all the responses to all the C Word threads this month - we hope you've found it useful and informative.

NancyMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 27-Oct-10 08:53:00


Just to let you all know that Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust have now sent their answers back to us - we've put them up over here.

Thanks again to everyone who posted questions.

emmajojack Tue 15-May-12 13:19:36

I have a question. My boyfriend of one and a half years recently developed genital warts I have not had any symptoms but wonder if i have the HPV virus also. I had borderline changes in my smear two years ago before I met him and have had had normal smears since then . My Doctor said I need another smear test and A HPV test to see if I have been infected and to see it is a high risk strain , so I have had a smear and am waiting for the results .I was then told by the lab that do the test smears they only test for HPV if the smear shows borderline changes and that the local hospital near me is not doing it till July this year as they do not have the machine for testing the HPV in till then. I know that hospitals in the rest of the country are doing it now and if I do have borderline changes I will have to then wait another six months to see if it has gone back to normal before I may get the test . Also the fact I have more than likely have been exposed to the virus should warrant A HPV test. I am very upset and worried and do not know what to do. I know the test can be done privet but it is very expensive and I do not have the money to do that or I Would. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

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