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Smear tests

(202 Posts)
miriam25 Mon 30-Dec-13 17:54:52

Hi all,
I seem to have developed a phobia of smear tests - today 10mg of Valium wouldn't even help! I've read about HPV blood tests - has anyone had one or does anyone have any idea where you can get them done?
I've also thought of having a course of hypnotherapy - has this worked for anyone one??
Many thanks

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:05:04

There is only 1/2% chance of getting cervical cancer. I am incredibly annoyed that I was not told this before I had a smear test. That risk is fine for me.

I kicked up merry hell with cancerscreening.nhs.uk and they deleted all my cervical cytology smear test records and sent me the slides. I was furious I claimed I was screened without my fully informed consent.

I would never ever trust the NHS again.

If I was you I would do some research and see if it is advisable for you to be screened. Dr Maraget McCartney book a Patient Paradox is a good place to start she is a GP in Glassgow he book is on Amazon. Loads of facts and figures in the book. Plus she explains the research

miriam25 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:08:17

Thank you honeybee66. Yes I'm on google now researching and I have heard of Margaret McCartney. Surely there must be an alternative to such an invasive procedure??!

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:14:35

In Australia you can self test. However even if you have precancerous cells they do not necessarily turn to cancer. So a lot of women are being made highly anxious and put through unnecessary screening and treatments.

For me the risks are fine but I get incredibly annoyed we are not given the information to make our own informed choices based on what is acceptable risk to us an individuals.

To be brutally honest I would not trust the NHS as far as I could throw it. Way too many things have gone wrong for me.

My personal aim is still the hell away from it! If anyone in the NHS badgers me about anything they will know about it!

miriam25 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:19:27

My sister told me about a woman she knows who had never had a test due to being so phobic, and sadly she died recently of cervical cancer. So I suppose that is totally freaking me out

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:20:52

Miriam ask your GP for the contact details of your local Screening Office (smear tests schemes are run by the local Screening Office NOT your GP) they can send you a form to fill in so you are not bothered again. If you happen to live in Essex shout I can get you a form.

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:23:41

A smear test does not pick up all cases of cervical cancers so there is no guarantee it would have been picked up. The lifetime incidence is 1-2% so low.

eurochick Mon 30-Dec-13 18:24:18

I think it's a good thing that screening is available for people who want it. However, I feel like there is too much pressure to go for testing (because GP's get money for it). There is also a helluva a lot of overtreatment. Mildly abnormal cells have a tiny chance of turning cancerous. I was put under a lot of pressure to have mine removed with the LLETZ procedure (which has risks of its own). I declined and after 6 months my smear was normal. I am happy to have the screening, but I have issues with what is done based on the results.

I also find it bizarre that I am pushed into cervical screening (for which I am low risk) but breast screening is not available for my age group on the NHS, although I am only a few years younger than when my mother developed it and I have already had a number of lumps investigated. It seems daft.

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:35:27

Absolutely Eurochick it should be for the individual to decide. My worry is screening is pushed by the NHS without fully informed consent and legally this may even constitute assault, which the line I took. I scared the living daylights out of cancerscreening.nhs.uk!

miriam25 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:37:16

It's all very interesting eurochick - I didn't know that GP's get money for doing smears.
How do you know you are low risk by the way? Is it based on how many sexual partners you have had? I haven't had many but I suppose my fear is how many they have had....

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:38:32

Eorochick GP's get paid but its the DH and government that set the GP Contract. So they are paying GP's to be the bad guys and pressurise women into being screened and over treated. Its very, very wrong sad

shewhowines Mon 30-Dec-13 18:47:41

A smear test has saved my life!

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in August and had a radical hysterectomy in September, along with the removal of my groin lymph nodes. It was caught early because of the smear test and I didn't need chemo or radiotherapy because of it. I had some very dark moments during and after my cancer diagnosis. Fortunately I'm ok and have been given the all clear, but I am very aware if how differently it could have turned out.

Why put a bit of discomfort or embarrassment above something that could save your life?

Please please get it done. It probably won't matter if you don't have it done... But it might make the difference between living and dying!

SugarCaneShortCake Mon 30-Dec-13 18:51:28

I have always declined cervical screening. I am in my fifties and I have never had a smear test. I removed myself from the register so I do not get reminders.

I am saddened that someone would need Valium or hypnotherapy to have elective screening.

Read the Patient Paradox - it will open your eyes. The author is a GP and declines the test.

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 18:52:12

Shew that is fine your choice to be screened which I support. For me I am happy with the risk. My grandmother had cervical cancer too.

However screening does not pick up all cases of cervical cancer. For me my choice is to attend if I have symptoms.

The constant badgering by the NHS is just on as I result I would never ever trust the NHS again. Its is a double edged sword constant harassment stops patients attending with symptoms.

shewhowines Mon 30-Dec-13 18:56:33

I had no symptoms at all. My chances of survival would have decreased by the time symptoms presented themselves. I had a 1.6cm tumour!

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 19:01:07

Shew that is fine. It is still very rare. Personally my informed decision is not to be screened.

I am also with Sugarcane its so sad patients feel so pressurise by the NHS they need valium to be screened. Something is very wrong with our screening programmes we just not given balanced information so we can weigh up our risks.

miriam25 Mon 30-Dec-13 19:04:21

I'm so pleased to hear Shewhowins that the smear test saved your life - that's fantastic. Believe me if I could I would have one. Some people I know find them fine and have no difficulties - but for me, for various reasons, I get very anxious and involuntarily shut my legs making it hard for the nurse. However the advice I am hearing from the mums on this site is calming me down and making me feel like I am not necessarily going to die!! My nurse also told me that she has had a handful of cases of cervical cancer in her long career, which calmed me down too.
I am going to try and find a way of getting a smear test this year because I am a worrier and would prefer to have one. But I am very interested to hear from the people who don't want a smear on this website, and I totally respect them.

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 19:06:39

Miriam read Dr Maragaret McCartney's book the Patient Paradox that will reassure you. She is a GP in Glassgow.

shewhowines Mon 30-Dec-13 19:06:54

Yes, I agree it is a personal choice, but i still think the government is correct to pressurise. Living with cancer is hell. If it only saves a handful of lives, it is worth it. An informed choice is your choice, but to not have a test because you are scared of it, or are embarrassed, is a choice you could live to regret.

shewhowines Mon 30-Dec-13 19:10:16

miriam I'm not trying to scare you and obviously it is rare, so don't worry if you really can't have one ,but yes, if you can find a way to do it, that would be great. Good luck.

eurochick Mon 30-Dec-13 19:11:26

The risk factors include things like the Pill, smoking, number of sexual partners, number of births, age of loss of virginity. There is a list online somewhere.

The Patient Paradox is an interesting read.

honeybee66 Mon 30-Dec-13 19:13:50

We disagree Shew the NHS badgering, harassing patients is not an informed choice. Its sad patients have to find the risks and benefits out themselves. Its only lovely GP's like Dr Margaret McCartney who stand up and be counted that give patients the information they need.

As said before cancerscreening.nhs.uk ran very scared when I said I had been screened without by informed consent and it could be assault. My screening records where deleted amazingly fast!

As a result of this I reluctant to go anywhere near the NHS now even if was ill/had symptoms.

I went out with a GP over xmas he said I needed referral my reply I really can't it. I doubt I will bother and will just live with consequences.

miriam25 Mon 30-Dec-13 19:19:07

I am going to have one somehow but I'm going to read the The Patient Paradox book too. There are so many factors that don't help, only having a 10 minute appointment doesn't help - knowing that the nurse needs you out asap etc...
Thank you everyone
thanks

shewhowines Mon 30-Dec-13 19:19:54

Since my diagnosis, it's been amazing how many women have said to me, that they have had treatment for abnormal cells. I had no idea that so many women are affected. It's not something you normally talk about except with close friends. Yes, some of these might not have developed into actual cancer, but certainly some would have if left untreated. The reason cervical cancer is rare, is because screening picks up so many women before the abnormal cells turn cancerous.
If you can do it, then why not? Better be safe than sorry.

shewhowines Mon 30-Dec-13 19:22:04

Hopefully they will make you a longer appointment miriam. Good luck.

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