One brave woman has posted a photo of her cervix online to remind women of the importance of regular smear tests.
Former model and blogger Tracy Kiss, 28, had a cervical biopsy last year after a smear test revealed abnormal cells. Fortunately there were no signs of cancer but there were changes in the skin amounting to CIN 2, which may become more severe if left for a long period of time and increase the risk of developing cervical cancer in some people.
To remove the abnormal cells, Kiss was advised to have a LLETZ treatment, which may also be known as loop diathermy, loop cone, loop biopsy or loop excision. The treatment involves using a thin wire loop heated with an electric current to burn the abnormal cells away. A local anaesthetic is injected into the cervix to numb the area, meaning the patient should experience discomfort but little or no pain.
Kiss chronicled the entire journey on her blog, beginning with her initial smear test results last year and providing regular updates. In November 2015 she posted a photograph of her cervix to her blog to show the abnormal cells.
More: Woman who was “too young” for a Pap smear diagnosed with cervical cancer
The image went viral last week, which happened to be Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, after Kiss shared it on social media.
The mother-of-two, an avid health campaigner who has raised money for several charities, is keen to share her experience and remind other women how important it is to have regular smear tests — and not to ignore early symptoms that may suggest cervical cancer.
Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine, Kiss asked Dr. Hilary Jones, “Are there any early symptoms of cervical cancer that I can have myself screened for?”
“That’s such an important question because the answer is don’t wait for symptoms,” replied Dr. Jones. “By the time you’ve got symptoms which could be bleeding after sex, pain in the back, abdominal bloating or pain, it’s already far advanced. The whole point of screening is you detect anything that could lead to those symptoms 10 to 15 years before it happens so screening early means that you can cure it. Waiting for symptoms means you can die from it. Don’t wait for symptoms, get your smear test straight away.”
“At the age of 28 I never would have thought that something like this could happen to me, I thought irregular bleeding, period cramps that linger and back ache was just a sign of getting old and having children but it’s not,” Kiss wrote on her blog. “You know in yourself when something isn’t right and when your body isn’t behaving as normal. A quick smear test could save your life and I’m incredibly thankful that I had mine.”
Kiss had the loop diathermy on Feb. 3 and is now awaiting the results.
“Having this procedure will save my life and many more, let’s please be vigilant and share a kind word of encouragement with friends, cousins, sisters, aunts and mothers to make sure they have all had theirs,” she said. “You cannot put a price on life and sadly no amount of embarrassment, fear or regret can ever bring you back from the grave.”
According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, over 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. It is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under. It is thought that up to 93 percent of cervical cancers are preventable, making it vitally important for women to have regular smear tests and know what early symptoms to look out for.
More: Cervical cancer: One woman’s story