The cancer-fighting singer is urging people to book their swab tests

A SINGER who had a full hysterectomy after a swab found she had cervical cancer is urging others to book their tests.

Cervical screening (also called a smear test) for human papillomavirus (HPV) is offered to all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64, with first appointments shortly after their 25th birthday. Swabs are usually performed by a nurse in the doctor’s office.

St Helens Star: Sarah during her treatmentSarah during her treatment (Image: Sarah Waters)

Despite the potentially life-saving benefits of cervical screening, fewer than 7 in 10 people in the Northwest who were eligible for cervical screening attended their appointments in the year through June 2022.

Brave Sarah Waters, of Prescot, took her first routine swab in April 2022 after it was delayed two years because of the pandemic.

She didn’t hear back for a while, so she assumed everything must have been clear.

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But after going to Mallorca on a bachelorette party in May, she came back to the news that her swab had shown abnormalities and that doctors wanted her to come in for further tests.

Tests revealed that not only did she have cervical cancer, but that it was a rare and aggressive type called poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma.

Sarah, who has had one round of chemotherapy and a full hysterectomy, is awaiting results in March to see if treatment has been successful, but is urging others to book her potentially life-saving swab tests.

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She said: “I’m doing really well at the moment. I just had my 6 week check up and am now going into early menopause due to the surgery I had, but the thumb tests are coming back in March saying it worked.

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“I can’t believe what I went through, but I’m also so grateful I got my swab, even if it was delayed by two years due to the pandemic, and I urge others to do the same.

“A lot of my symptoms I’ve traced back to other things, like the back pain I was having, which I now know is a key sign. I just thought I had back pain.

“Smear tests are nothing to be afraid of, for a relatively short inconvenience they could potentially save a life.

“I’ve had so many messages that people who know me have posted their swabs and that means a lot.

“It is worthwhile that I shared my story, knowing that it could help others.

“One person came forward and said tests showed they have the HPV gene, so they can now be monitored.”

Cervical cancer can be found anywhere in the cervix, which is the opening between the vagina and uterus and is part of the reproductive system. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, and there are cervical screening tests for that — if your cells turn out to be abnormal, it’s easily treatable without cancer ever developing.

Symptoms of cervical cancer can include:

• Pain in the lower back, between the hip bones (pelvis) or in the lower abdomen

• vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you – including bleeding during or after sex, between your menstrual periods or after menopause, or heavier menstrual periods than usual

• Painful intimacy with a partner

However, you don’t have to have symptoms to have a cervical cancer screening test. Screening is about preventing cancer and nipping it in the bud.

Helen Dickinson, Deputy Head of Public Health for NHS England – North West, said: “Cervical cancer screening is so important and one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.

“Routine cervical cancer screening is all about prevention. So if there are any changes or abnormalities, we can monitor and treat them before they ever develop into cancer.

“Please do not ignore your invitation to be screened for cervical cancer. We know it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing and that you lead busy lives, but we will do everything we can to make your appointment as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.” The cancer-fighting singer is urging people to book their swab tests

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