While it shouldn’t be, talking about cervical cancer screenings, otherwise known as smear tests, can be something of an awkward topic of conversation – almost a taboo subject. But it’s a lifesaving measure.
According to Cancer Research, there are around 3,200 new cervical cancer cases in the UK every year, nearly 9 every day. In females in the UK, cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer, and incidence rates for cervical cancer in the UK are highest in females aged 30 to 34. As with other types of cancer, early diagnosis means that treatment can start quickly and hopefully lead to the best possible outcome.
Nonetheless, I’m guilty of putting my next appointment off. Why? Because the available appointment times were never convenient for my working day and I didn’t want to discuss it.
Logically, I know this is for my health and that my employer would not begrudge my taking the time for a medical appointment, in fact they may be frustrated reading this and knowing I was ever reticent. Yet here we are – it slipped off my radar and I’m overdue. And I’m not alone. One in three do not book appointments when invited.
According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, “38% of women and other people with a cervix were unable to get a convenient appointment the last time they tried to book, and 1 in 5 haven’t been able to get an appointment at all.”
Convenient meaning outside of working hours? We need to prioritise our health and foster working environments whereby we know that if it means a 14:30 appointment on a Tuesday – book it and go without guilt or worry.
Haggie Partners has signed up to Jo’s Time to Test workplace campaign – which commits the business to helping raise awareness while importantly encouraging colleagues to get screenings even during working hours.
This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and I would encourage any organisation or employer to consider this hurdle many face in the workplace. You can take the initiative to dispel any worries that it’s not professional or appropriate to book an appointment between 9-5.
Everyone’s situation, challenges faced and experiences are different. But by making your commitment clear, you are indicating to the women within your workplace, some of whom may never have had a screening or appreciate the importance of getting them, that you value their health and so should they – “book your test, we support you”.
I’m off to book mine now.