The social campaign for cervical screening

The latest trend on social media in regards to social awareness relates to women, but more specifically to cervical cancer.

The ‘Smear for Smear’ campaign was launched to raise awareness for Cervical Cancer and to encourage woman to get regular smear tests.  Celebrities such as model Cara Delevingne have shown support for the campaign by posting photos of their faces smeared with lipstick and nominating others to do the same.

The campaign was launched by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in the UK in 2015 and was relaunched this year to coincide with European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week which took place from the 24th to the 31st of January.

In Ireland smear tests are free for women between the ages of 25 and 60 and are available through the National Cervical Check screening program.  As stated on the Cervical Check website: “a smear test is a simple procedure that only takes minutes and is the most effective way to detect changes in the cells of the cervix.” Women are recommended to get tested every three to five years.

According to the Irish Cancer Society “approximately 306 Irish women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Ireland, and around 93 women die from the disease” every year. Dr Philip Davies, Director General of the European Cervical Cancer Association said “30,000 women die from cervical cancer each year in Europe”, of which he said many are preventable.

Cancer Research UK has found that the number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer in Britain has risen by almost 60 per cent while the number of women engaging in regular cervical screening has decreased.

The Irish Cancer Society encourages cervical screening as detecting changes in the cervix can aid in treatment of “pre-cancerous cells” which can prevent cancer developing. The Marie Keating Foundation also agrees, as in the early stages of cervical cancer there are usually “no symptoms” which is why smear tests are “vital”. Promoting cervical cancer awareness and encouraging women to get tested is important because it could help prevent future cases.

According to the Marie Keating Foundation; having a regular smear test is “one of the most important steps a woman can take in reducing her risk of cervical cancer.” While a campaign such as the #SmearforSmear might seem silly, the motive and the reasoning behind it could improve the chances of early detection of cervical cancer and save lives.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust – the creators of the #SmearforSmear campaign – suggest early detection increases survival rates and educating people on the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it are essential in helping women across the world in the battle against cervical cancer.

Hannah Moran

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