'Focus On' Macmillan in Worcestershire
January 2015 marks the arrival of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (25th-31st). There are several signs and symptoms to look out for to identify cervical cancer as well as steps that can be taken to aid prevention.
Nicky Plant is a Macmillan Gynaecology Cancer Nurse Specialist based at Worcester Royal Hospital and she supports women affected gynaecological cancers such as cervical cancer, across the whole of Worcestershire.
Nicky and her colleague Helen provide specialist support and care at all stages of the cancer journey to ensure their patients don’t feel alone, from initial investigations and diagnosis, through to treatment as well as continuing to offer follow up support.
They support both the patient and their families, by providing information, discussing and explaining treatment options, helping to manage symptoms and side effects and signposting to other services who can offer support with finances or emotional support. Many women need additional psychological support to cope with the impact of their treatment on their fertility.
Nicky and Helen work closely with other hospitals, local hospices, community palliative care teams, community nurses and GP’s to ensure patients get coordinated, high quality, care. They also provide their patient’s with a helpline service to ensure they can access support as and when they need it.
Nicky says, “The best part of my role is meeting and helping very courageous patients and their families and knowing that at the end of each working day, I have made a positive difference to each patient and helped them through their cancer journey.
I feel honoured to be associated with Macmillan, being part of the Macmillan team ensures we can provide the best possible service to every patient, to meet all their needs. Macmillan offer us a professional level of education and development that is highly valued by all the nursing specialists involved.”
The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, usually between periods or after sex. Women who’ve gone through the menopause (who are no longer having periods) may find they have some new bleeding. There are many other conditions that can cause this, not just cancer, but it is important to visit your GP and have it checked out.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include smoking, a weakened immune system, the contraceptive pill, HPV and sex. HPV is a very common virus that can affect the cells of the cervix. It’s mainly passed on during sex. Having sex at an early age and having several sexual partners can increase the risk of catching HPV and developing cervical cancer.
Regular screening is the best way to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. There are also two vaccines that can help prevent cervical cancer. They are now routinely given to 12-13 year old girls in the UK. The HPV vaccination is hoped to prevent 70% of the most common type of cervical cancer.
To find out more about cervical cancer, how to reduce the risks and prevention, visit macmillan.org.uk or call us free on 0808 808 00 00. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will have to.