Do not fear the smear: how to overcome anxiety about cervical screening

The Guardian - 03-18

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It was only three months. Four, at the most. Throughout, the letters kept coming, so regularly that Laura Flaherty didn’t need to open them to know what they contained: a repeated request for her to make an appointment for a cervical screening. The procedure gathers cells from your cervix, a narrow “neck” that joins the uterus to the top of the vagina, which are then screened. But it is better known as a smear test because cells that are removed from your cervix with the help of a speculum (a device that keeps the vaginal walls open) and a brush are then smeared on to a slide for analysis. Abnormal cells sometimes require further testing because they may indicate cervical cancer, the best-known gynaecological cancer and, in the UK, the most common cancer in women under 35.