Posted 13 Feb 2020

Facts and figures about Cervical Cancer (Author: Caroline Sharpe-Szunko)

iam|INSURED is the UK’s #1 insurance expert for people with pre-existing medical conditions which includes all types of Cancer such as Cervical Cancer. Generally, it is possible to get life insurance if you’ve been diagnosed with Cervical Cancer even

About Cervical Cancer Awareness Week

Every January there is an event which is held by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust which is one of the UK’s leading charities to help support people who have been diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. This amazing charity was founded around 1999 to provide vital information and support to women living with or who have been diagnosed with the condition and does some incredible work.

How can Cervical Cancer affect women?

As a female myself, I am only too aware of how much stress and how traumatic it can be to even just have a Smear test. Those women who have shared the experience of having an abnormal smear result will know how much of an impact this can have on you both mentally and physically.

The harsh reality of abnormal smears can cause a major strain on any woman and can happen at any age, regardless of whether they have children or not. Results of an abnormal smear will also usually take a couple of weeks to be processed currently on the NHS which can also cause additional stress but of course does not necessarily result in a diagnosis of Cervical Cancer in the vast majority of cases.

The NHS is generally very good at providing women in the UK with Smear tests regularly and will also often process results within a couple of weeks. Cancer treatment in the UK on the NHS however can be slightly restricted compared to what treatments might be available through a Private Medical Insurance policy.

Private Medical Insurance can be very cost-effective and prices have reduced dramatically so it is worth considering taking out a policy that covers cancer treatment. Most modern private medical insurance policies will provide cover for specialist cancer treatment through a private hospital which can be vital when someone has been diagnosed with cancer.

What is Cervical Cancer?

This type of cancer forms in the cells that line the cervix walls which is the narrow and lower section of the womb (uterus) that joins with the top of the vagina. It is important to have regular smear tests (screening) because cervical cancer doesn’t show any symptoms in the early stages where it is mostly preventable.

According to statistics, 99.7% of cases where women have been diagnosed with cervical cancer is caused by persistent infections of high-risk HPV which can result in changes to cervical cells. HPV is a very common infection amongst women and approximately 1 in 5 (80%) will contract one type of the virus at some stage in their lives. The main way that HPV can be spread is by skin-on-skin contact around the genital area which means that anyone who is sexually active is at risk of infection.

Statistics about cervical cancer in the UK:

  • Cases: There were 3,192 reported cases of cervical cancer in the UK (average between 2014-2016)
  • Survival: 63% of women will survive cervical cancer for over 10 years in England and Wales (2010-2011)
  • Deaths: According to statistics there were 852 deaths from cervical cancer (average between 2015-2017)
  • Prevention: It is suggested that 99.8% of cases where cervical cancer is diagnosed are preventable

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection amongst women and approximately 80% (1 in 5) will get it at some point in their lives. Generally, the body is able to deal with contracting the virus by itself and can often come and go without even realising there has been any issue.

HPV is the name used most commonly for the virus which is an infection of the skin and moist membrane (mucosa), including:

  • Cervix
  • Lining of the throat and mouth
  • Vagina, Vulva and Anus

The virus is usually contracted through sexual contact which is the main reason why there is a stigma causing embarrassment and also why women do not go for screening as regularly as they should.

Types of HPV

According to medical experts, there are around 200 different strains of the HPV virus that are known and different types will affect different parts of the body.

HPV strains are split in to two different types which are:

  • Low-risk HPV
  • High-risk HPV

Low-risk HPV is the most common form of the HPV virus which can cause minor symptoms such as warts on the hands and feet or genital warts.

High-risk HPV is the form of HPV which is connected to some cancers and therefore the most dangerous strain of the virus. With both strains of HPV, the body will often deal with it itself which means that it can simply disappear without ever knowing it was there.

HPV and cancer

There are 13 types of HPV that are linked to cancer which are known as ‘high-risk HPV’.

If you are diagnosed with high-risk HPV it does not mean that you will get cancer and in the majority of cases, it will go without ever knowing it was ever there.

Daniel Sharpe-Szunko