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Cervical Cancer Prevention Week: How to raise awareness in the workplace

We are in the midst of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which runs from the 15th to the 20th of June this year. With over 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK annually, health screenings provide the greatest protection against this form of cancer. In fact, smear tests alone prevent 75% of cervical cancers.

Early diagnosis is crucial to improving survival and can save an estimated 55,000 lives, according to the NHS. There’s no better time to raise cervical cancer awareness in the workplace than prevention week, which we’ll cover in this Pacific Prime UK article.

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Why cervical cancer awareness matters

Whether it takes place for a day, week, or month, cervical cancer awareness can help save lives. According to Cancer Research UK’s latest statistics, 99.8% of UK cervical cancer cases are preventable. The COVID-19 pandemic has likely led to many cervical screening test delays or cancellations. With an average of 8 new cervical cancer cases per day in the UK, these figures can quickly add up.

But why is it so important to get tested regularly? Essentially, a person who is diagnosed with cancer at an early stage has a much better chance of treating it successfully. On top of that, early detection can also mean less invasive procedures and reduced long-term side effects.

Cervical health screenings can detect changes and high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) before it turns into cancer. 2020 saw the introduction of HPV vaccines for girls and boys in schools countrywide. The introduction of the HPV vaccine and more cervical screening attendance could lead to a significant drop in cervical cancer rates and increased survival within the next decade.

Raising awareness of cervical cancer at work

During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, it only makes sense to target health promotion activities in the organisation towards the cause.

Even though Breast Cancer Awareness Month and several other cancer awareness events take place throughout the year, Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is an opportunity for employers to reflect on how they are supporting employees and their health. As an organisation, there is plenty you can do to get involved in Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, including fundraising and health promotion events.

A cervical cancer awareness campaign presents an opportunity to discuss the fact that the week is taking place and how individuals or teams can get involved. What’s more, it gives organisations the chance to introduce conversations around cancer more broadly. This can include how the company is doing when it comes to supporting employees who:

  • Have been diagnosed with cancer
  • Are currently going through treatment
  • Are expecting to return to work following treatment

It can also be a good time to evaluate whether managers are adequately trained in handling challenging conversations, such as by re-assessing their listening and emotional intelligence skills – which are useful skills for any manager to have.

Remember to pay attention to both the mental and physical aspects of cancer. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) can provide employees with a confidential and safe space to voice their fears and concerns, and help managers gain beneficial best practice advice.

Encourage cervical screenings

Perhaps the most important reason to raise cervical cancer awareness in the workplace is to encourage employees to go for screenings. Since it is a gender-specific cancer, consider whether your female employees are inspired to visit their GP for cervical screening checks. Also be honest about whether your company culture is having a negative impact on their health, such as an “always-on” approach that celebrates long hours.

In 2018, almost one-fourth of women surveyed said they did not have a health check because they were too busy at work. For that reason, during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week workplaces can join the Time To Test campaign to make sure female staff have enough time off to attend cervical screenings.

Onsite health support

Employers can reach out for expert help on the subject of cervical cancer or occupational health in general. There are many programmes out there that offer guidance, information and training. Plus, they can provide onsite support if necessary. After all, not all managers will have received training on supporting people with chronic conditions.

Ways to reduce risk of cervical cancer

All women should know how cervical cancer can be reduced, such as by:

  • Attending scheduled cervical screenings
  • Getting HPV vaccinations between the ages of 11 and 18
  • Knowing cervical cancer symptoms and seeking medical advice if any symptoms come up

Cervical cancer symptoms

Be sure to visit your GP if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Unpleasant vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Discomfort or pain during sex
  • Bleeding during or after sex
  • Bleeding after menopause

Note that these symptoms do not necessarily indicate cancer and could be signs of other common health risks for women, though they should always be checked. Delayed or misdiagnosed cases happen all the time, making it imperative to raise awareness of cervical cancer and encourage cervical cancer screenings.

Put your employees’ health first with Pacific Prime UK

Whether you’re looking to add EAPs to your employee benefits plan or compare health insurance in the UK, look no further than Pacific Prime UK. As an employee benefits specialist and insurance broker, we can help you secure private health insurance in the UK, including group health insurance, UK expat health insurance, and more. Contact us for impartial advice and a free plan comparison or quote today.

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime UK
​​Jantra Jacobs is a content writer at Pacific Prime. On a typical workday, she writes and edits articles, guides, and anything else word-related. She loves creating content that is both easy to understand and enjoyable to read.

In her free time, she’s likely to be writing poetry and prose, geeking out on her latest interests, reading, or practicing yoga.