We offer a range of clinics and services here at Summercroft Surgery to support women’s health and help maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The National Breast Screening Programme was introduced in 1988 as an early detection service for breast cancer. It states that all women who are aged between 50 – 70 years of age will be routinely invited for free breast screening every three years. The programme is very successful and currently saves around 1,400 lives per year.
Breast screening aims to find breast cancer at an early stage, often before there are any symptoms. To do this, an x-ray is taken of each breast (mammogram). Early detection may often mean simpler and more successful treatment. When women are invited for their mammogram depends on which GP they are registered with, not when their birthday is.
The screening office runs a rolling programme which invites women by area. The requirement is that all women will receive their first invitation before their 53rd birthday, but ideally when they are 50. If you are under 50 and concerned about any aspect of breast care, please contact the surgery to make an appointment with your GP.
Useful links: West London Breast Screening
Cervical Screening Test
Cervical screening, or smear test, is a method of detecting abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in the cervix in order to prevent cervical cancer. The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina. Cervical screening is recommended every three years for women aged 25 to 49 and every five years for women aged 50 to 64 or more frequently if smear results indicates abnormal changes.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for 1 in 20 women the test will show some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be treated to prevent them becoming cancerous.
Our nurses are qualified to carry out cervical screening and tests in the form of cervical smears. In order to have a cervical smear the patient must have received a letter requesting that they have a cervical smear and the appointment must please be made for when the patient is not menstruating.
These appointments typically take around 15 minutes. For any further information or to book an appointment, please call the surgery.
Cervical screening week
This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week (June 14th – June 20th). It would be great to have your support to raise awareness of this life-saving test, and to help enable more women and people with a cervix to better understand their results.
Cervical screening (a smear test) is the best protection against cervical cancer, yet over a quarter of those invited don’t take up their invitation. It can be a difficult test for many, from those who experience pain to those with experience of trauma or who have gaps in understanding about what the test is for. The impact of COVID-19 on the programme, and reluctance of some to access primary care over the last year have provided further hurdles.
HPV primary screening was recently introduced across England, Scotland, and Wales. This is a more sensitive test which looks first for Human Papillomavirus – HPV – the virus which causes 99.7% of cervical cancers. This will help us identify, at a far earlier stage, those who are at greater cervical cancer risk. However, many more people are now finding out they have HPV.
The HPV virus is very common, and 80% of us will have it in our lives, with most clearing it within 2 years. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of myths, misconceptions, and stigmas related to the virus, meaning when it appears on cervical screening results many feel anxious, confused and scared. A lot of work has gone into removing the stigma from cervical screening and encouraging conversation about the test. We want to ensure that the move to HPV testing, a far superior testing method, does not undo this progress.
You can help spread awareness of cervical screening by taking part in Cervical Screening Awareness Week by posting on social media, posting banners on your website and by sharing you story. All resources and suggested text for social media can be found here.
If you’ve forgotten to take your pill, your condom split or you’ve had unprotected sex in the last 72 hours then you may need emergency contraception, and the sooner you take it the better.
Emergency contraception is available free from Contraception and Sexual Health Services, some GPs (family doctors) and most pharmacies (chemists), even if you’re under 16.
If you’ve had unprotected sex or your condom failed, it is also really important to consider your risk for sexually transmitted infections and to think about your long-term contraception needs. Please phone the surgery to book an emergency appointment.
If you miss the 72 hours it is still possible to have an emergency coil fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex. You can have an emergency coil fitted for free at your local sexual health clinic.