The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Nurse guidance published on cervical cancer and HPV

Young women ‘too embarrassed’ to get screened

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Encouraging women to attend for regular cervical screenings saves lives, according to new guidance published this week.

To mark Cervical Screening Awareness Week (11-18 June), The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has launched Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Cervical Screening and Cervical Cancer, which provides registered nurses with detailed guidance on the risks associated with HPV and how regular screening makes a positive difference to women’s health.

One in four women do not attend cervical screening appointments – leaving many at risk of undetected pre-cancerous cells resulting from high-risk HPV, the primary cause of cervical cancer.

In a survey of 25 to 29-year-olds, the UK charity, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, found 70% of young women do not think cervical screening reduces a woman’s risk of cervical cancer.

A quarter were too embarrassed to attend cervical screenings highlighting the importance of nursing staff providing informed and sensitive care to women who attend these appointments.

The RCN is calling on nursing staff to increase awareness among women and men about the risks of HPV at every opportunity.

The guidance also provides clinical information on the different types of cervical cancer, their diagnosis and treatment and the HPV vaccine.

Carmel Bagness, the RCN’s professional lead for midwifery and women’s health said: “Cervical screening saves lives, and we can all play a vital role in supporting women through the process. This guidance provides nursing staff with the tools they need to perform cervical screening and stresses the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer.

“All registered nurses and midwives who undertake cervical screenings must have access to training programmes and ongoing continuing professional development opportunities, to enhance service provision and aim to help reduce the barriers which may prevent women from accessing these vital services.”

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “We very much welcome the updated RCN guidance on Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Cervical Screening and Cervical Cancer. With one in four women not attending screening and this number getting worse every year there is an urgent need to not only raise awareness of the importance of the test in preventing cervical cancer but also among health care professionals.

“Sample takers have an incredibly important role to play in educating women about the disease and how to prevent it but also in ensuring women attending their screening have the best experience they can. This guidance in an instrumental tool in making that happen.”

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470