15 minutes that could save your life

Our ’15 minutes that could save your life’ campaign raises awareness of cervical cancer.

What is the campaign about?

To help raise awareness of cervical screening, we have been working with three of our member practices; Hyde Park Surgery, Craven Road Medical Practice and Burley Park Medical Centre to launch the ’15 minutes that could save your life’ campaign.

Why it’s important you attend your cervical screening (smear test)

According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, every year in the UK, around 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. It is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35. To improve the chances of spotting cancer early there is a national screening programme for cervical cancer which saves around 5,000 lives a year. The programme invites women aged 25-49 for a screening once every three years (once every five years for women aged 50-64).

For further information on cervical cancer screening visit www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/cervical

The ’15 minutes that could save your life’ campaign has the backing from Sarah Donaghey, a 29 year old local woman who had treatment for cervical cancer, read Sarah’s story below.

Know the symptoms of cervical cancer

In the early stages of cervical cancer there are usually no symptoms. However, there are recognised symptoms that are linked with cervical cancer. These are:

  • Bleeding: during or after sex or between periods
  • Post menopausal bleeding
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower back pain

Not all women diagnosed with cervical cancer experience the above symptoms which is why it’s important that you attend regular cervical screening.
As cancer develops, it can cause further symptoms;

  • Frequency of urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Diarrhoea
  • Incontinence
  • Lower limb lymphoedema

If you experience any or all of the above symptoms, or concerned about any new symptom it’s important that you make an appointment to see your GP or practice nurse as soon as possible.

Download campaign materials

15 minutes could save your life – A0 poster

15 minutes could save your life – A3 poster

15 minutes could save your life – A5 leaflet

15 minutes could save your life – postcard

(Photo below, left to right Sarah Donaghey with Sara Lane, Nurse Practitioner at Burley Park Medical Centre)

Local case study – Sarah Donaghey from Leeds

Sarah, 29 was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 25 in 2011. She had to have hysterectomy so that the cancer would not spread into her lymph nodes, which has left her with lymphoedema in her left leg and she is unable to have children.

Sarah, 29 says “I had my first cervical screening at the age of 25 and it had come back clear, but then I started bleeding quite heavily after sexual intercourse. I went to see my GP who thought it was because I was on the contraceptive injection, so I changed over to the pill but the bleeding continued. After seeing the doctor for the second time I had swabs taken for a STI (sexually transmitted infection) test which came back clear however my doctor thought it may be Bacterial Vaginosis. The next doctor I saw confirmed that she couldn’t really see anything due to thick mucus. This could have easily have been interpreted by the first doctor as simply discharge but it was a symptom of cervical cancer.

“After visiting my GP five times, I was then referred to a gynaecologist who asked me to go to the oncology department where I underwent a biopsy. While I was having all these tests it didn’t cross my mind that I would have cervical cancer.

“Two weeks after my biopsy I was told I had cervical cancer, I was speechless and shocked. I was told the reason why it wasn’t picked up in my cervical screening was because it was high up in the cervix. Even though it wasn’t picked up in the actual screening I know how important it is to have the smear test and discuss any concerns you may have with your GP.

“I then had to have a hysterectomy so that the cancer would not spread into my lymph nodes, but I’m left with lymphoedema in my left leg. The positive to this is that I’m still here and hope that my experience encourages other women to take up their cervical screening and know the symptoms of cervical cancer.”