Conference on cervical cancer

From left, councillors Maria Alexandrou, Dinah Barry, and former councillor Vicki Pite
From left, councillors Maria Alexandrou, Dinah Barry, and former councillor Vicki Pite, will all be speaking at the conference

Awareness-raising event planned for later this month, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Campaigners from different political parties have teamed up to raise awareness of a cancer that causes hundreds of preventable deaths in the UK every year.

The cross-party Enfield team has set up an online conference to provide information on cervical cancer and encourage women to get screening tests that can prevent the disease.

Due to take place later this month, it will feature presentations from health professionals on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease, with opportunities for the public to ask questions.

There are around 3,200 new cervical cancer cases in the UK and 850 deaths caused by the illness every year, according to Cancer Research UK. But although 99.8% of cases are preventable, only 70-73% of women have cervical screening when eligible – and take-up in Enfield is below the national average.

Determined to save lives, Conservative councillor Maria Alexandrou teamed up with Community First’s Dinah Barry and former Labour councillor Vicki Pite to set up the conference. Cllr Alexandrou said: “I want to make people aware they should put their health first.

“Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable. We have a situation where young people are burying their mums and parents are burying their daughters. I want to do everything we can to stop these unnecessary deaths.

“We want to reassure women it is safe to get a test. It is a five-minute test, it does not hurt, it is not harmful, and it can save your life. That is the message we want to get across.”

Cllr Alexandrou said it was devastating when her mother passed away from a different form of cancer 24 years ago, and she does not want others to experience what she went through.

Cllr Barry said: “Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that is preventable through screening. If we can encourage people to go for screening whenever they can, hopefully we will be able to save some lives.”

Vicki Pite, who resigned as a councillor for Chase ward in December but remains a member of the Labour Party, said some women may be avoiding going for a screening test because they are afraid of catching Covid-19.

“The only way through this sort of thing is to have specialists in front of you to hear what they have got to say and ask questions,” she added. “For that to happen, we need lots of people to sign up to the conference.”

The Cervical Cancer Awareness Conference will be held on Thursday, 21st January, between 10am and 1pm. For details of how to join the conference and more information, email: [email protected].