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Doncaster woman urges others to attend cervical screening after routine test revealed warning signs

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Nick Edmondson


A Doncaster woman is urging others to attend their cervical screening after warning signs were found during her screening appointment.

A selfie of a smiling young lady with blonde hair

Hayley Grice, 29, was told she had human papillomavirus (HPV) after cell changes were detected through routine cervical screening.

This is a warning sign for cervical cancer, and one that could be missed by many, with hundreds of thousands of women across the region not attending screening appointments.

I’m so glad that I went for my screening appointment. If I’d have put it off, I don’t know whether it would have developed into something worse.

“I want to urge everyone, especially young women who are invited for the first time, to attend their screening appointments. If you’re nervous about going, you can take someone with you, and they will put measures in place to make sure you feel comfortable.”

Cervical screening involves taking a small sample of cells from the cervix to look for signs of HPV, which causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. Most people will not have HPV, but if it is found, then further tests are carried out on the same sample to check for any changes in cells.

Finding cell changes early means that the cells can be treated before they are able to develop into cancer.

Read FAQs about cervical screening

I was invited for my screening just before my 25th birthday, and I did have my reservations and you hear stories about people finding it uncomfortable, but I knew that if there was something to be found through screening, I wanted it to be dealt with as soon as possible.

“The appointment was over in five minutes, and I left without thinking any more about it. I then had a letter telling me that there had been an abnormal result, so I was invited for further tests.”

Hayley had a test called a ‘colposcopy’, which means that the doctor can have a closer look at the cervix.

Hayley continued: “I did start to panic at that point, but I really want to reassure people that just because you’re invited for a colposcopy does not mean that you have cervical cancer.

“I took my Mum with me for the test, and the whole team were really lovely and put me at ease. They understood that it was a scary thing and were so reassuring.”

Hayley was told that she had HPV, and that it should go back to normal without any treatment.

She said: “I went back for my next screening last year, and all of my results came back as normal. Because I’d been before, and I’d gotten over that hurdle of my first screening, I knew what to expect and I felt a lot more comfortable.

“It can be scary when you don’t know what to expect, but you’ll feel so much better once it’s over and done with, and you know that there’s nothing to worry about. A lot of people can dance around it and think ‘I’ll book it later’, but you just need to rip the plaster off and make sure you go.”

Recent data shows that 400,000 women across Yorkshire who have been invited for cervical screening have either never attended an appointment or are not up to date with their checks.

The most significant decrease in screening participation has been among women aged 25 to 49, who make up 280,000 of the region’s missing screenings.

I try and share my experience with friends and family to encourage them to attend their screening. I had a friend who was nervous for her first appointment, and I offered to go with her, and I think it’s so important that those of us who have attended screening offer support to those who have been invited for the first time.

“Feeling like you have that support network, and there’s no taboo around talking about it, is the best way to make sure everyone takes part.”

Find out more about cervical screening