Event raises awareness of cancer screening

Women are encouraged to get a smear test as soon as they are offered one (credit Public Health England)

Online conference held to raise awareness of cervical cancer, writes Francis Sealey

Cervical Cancer Awareness Week was marked in Enfield by an online cross-party conference hosted by three current and former councillors.

Organised jointly by Dinah Barry, a Community First councillor in Winchmore Hill; Maria Alexandrou, a Conservative member for the same ward; as well as former Labour councillor Vicki Pite; last week’s conference saw a range of local experts answer questions about cervical cancer.

Participants praised the “very informative” event designed to encourage women in the borough to get a smear test as soon as they are offered one. It was felt by everyone to be a great success in getting information over about cervical cancer and the importance of testing.

The three speakers invited were expert practitioners in their field and brought a depth of information presented in a way that the audience could engage with. Dr Clare Stephens, co-clinical director for North Central London Cancer Alliance, spoke about the screening process and who has access to it across different age groups. Her message was to “never refuse a screening” because it is shown to save lives.

Dr Nitu Bajekal, a senior consultant gynaecologist, explained what cervical cancer is and what causes it. She talked in detail about prevention, not just through testing but through lifestyle changes as well.

Dr Christine Ekechi, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, also talked about prevention and how conditions like cancer impact on different communities, including how those communities access medical services such as testing. Dr Ekechi added that cervical cancer was “100% preventable” and that awareness of this was critical.

Everyone who joined the conference went away better informed, both about the condition as well as how to prevent it. The presentations were so important and informative that there are now plans to turn them into several video presentations for dissemination to a wider audience. There was also a wider discussion after the speakers had finished so any further questions could be answered.

For more information about cervical cancer screening: