It’s Cervical Screening Awareness Week and we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the stats and symptoms in case they’re helpful to anyone reading. We are not doctors, and all of this information is in the public domain, but if we hope that in sharing it, it could help someone to get a diagnosis a little earlier.
Cervical cancer symptoms
Cancer Research estimates that there are around 3197 new cases of cervical cancer each year in the UK and that 99.8% are preventable. It accounts for 2% of all new cancer cases in women, and is at its highest rate in women aged 30 to 34. Rates have decreased by 25% since the early 1990s thanks to a combination of screening and vaccination. The NHS says that the most common symptoms are:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, particularly between periods or during or after sex
- Changes to your vaginal discharge
- Pain during sex
- Pain in your lower back, between your hip bones or in your lower tummy
Some of these symptoms are similar to conditions like fibroids or endometriosis, but it's important to get them checked either if anything changes or if they are new to you.
Typical treatments for cervical cancer
Everyone’s experience of cancer is different and there’s no such thing as a textbook journey. It will depend on things like the size and type of cancer, where it is, if it’s spread and other factors like your overall health. However, typically a treatment plan for cervical cancer in the UK could include one or more of the following according to the NHS:
Surgery is the main treatment for cervical cancer, especially when it's found early. It might involve removing part of the cervix, part of the vagina, a hysterectomy and possible some lymph nodes. It depends on where the cancer is and its stage.
Chemotherapy tends to be offered before surgery to shrink the cancer, after surgery to help stop it from coming back or if the cancer is advanced and has spread. Chemotherapy can have side effects on how you feel and on your skin, causing sensitivities and reactions - there are skincare brands that can help support skincare at this time. For example, Jennifer Young's Beauty Despite Cancer products are beautiful and are used in a number of spa treatments as well.
Radiotherapy tends to be used if the cancer is large or has spread, or after surgery and sometimes in combination with chemotherapy to help prevent cancer from returning. It can also be used to help improve symptoms like bleeding.
If cancer is particularly advanced, doctors sometimes offer targeted treatments that are designed to help shrink the cancer or stop it from growing further, rather than curing it altogether.
Spa treatments and your cancer journey
All cancer treatments have their side effects that doctors will be able to offer advice on. From our perspective, spas are certainly not going to fix all problems, but with properly trained spa therapists and the right products, they can help to ease some side effects of cancer treatments and to provide support on your cancer journey. For example, the right type of massage has been shown to help ease pain, improve mood and help with sleeplessness. Meanwhile, products from brands like Jennifer Young help to ease some of the skincare side effects of cancer treatment.
If you would like to find out more about spas where therapists are trained to provide the best support on your cancer journey, you can follow the link to our Safe Hands for Cancer experiences, or read more articles on this blog.