Chrissy Teigen has sent an important reminder to women to still attend their smear test appointments during the coronavirus pandemic.
The star shared an image of her wearing a protective face mask and sheet while waiting to have her own smear test carried out.
“Don’t forget to keep up with your paps and have your boobs touched even though the world is ending!” she wrote in the accompanying caption.
And fans were keen to thank the model and TV chef for the important reminder.
“So true! Regular screenings helped my mum find her cancer when it was treatable 20 years ago!” one user wrote.
“Thanks for spreading such an important public health message!” another agreed. “The impact of this pandemic on cancer diagnosis and treatment is truly terrifying. Don’t forget to see your doctors if you need to!”
“Thank you for sending this message – many women out there are oblivious to how important these appointments are,” a third user commented.
Charities have estimated that at least one million women may have had cervical screening appointments cancelled or delayed as a result of coronavirus lockdown.
Cervical screening in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has largely paused, while in England cervical screening services have been affected in certain areas.
Jo's Trust estimates that around 571,000 tests would normally have been carried out in England in April and May, 68,000 in Scotland and 28,500 in Wales. It does not have figures for Northern Ireland.
But according to the charity cancelled or delayed appointments has left 39% of women feeling worried.
Even as lockdown restrictions in England are beginning to ease, which has seen cervical screenings now start to be sent out again, it seems COVID-19 has had a knock-on impact on women’s attitudes to the vital check.
New research from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has found that while 40% of women would feel relieved to be able to attend their smear test, around one in eight women (12%) say they feel less likely to attend than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Similar numbers (13%) think it is best to put off going for cervical screening at the moment.
The charity says it has seen a “growing level of anxiety and confusion” among women calling its helpline.
A survey of 851 women in the first week of June suggests 25% worry they will catch coronavirus, while 13% think it is best to put off going.
A further third (36%) of women claim to be unsure of what to expect if they go to a GP practice for a cervical screening now.
Something the charity is keen to rectify via the launch of their new FAQs which will address common questions such as ‘Is it safe to attend?’ and ‘Is the test the same still?’
The hope is to reassure women that, while visiting the GP might look a bit different, cervical screening itself remains the same.
“While it can be difficult if you are unable to get an appointment at the moment, providers of cervical screening services and the government are weighing up the risk of a delayed appointment against the risk of coronavirus,” Robert Music, CEO of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust explains.
“The aim is to keep you, and health workers, as protected as possible.”
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and director of primary care for the NHS in England is also keen to reassure women about the measures in place to help protect women from COVID-19 while attending their screening.
“Where local providers decided to reschedule cervical screening appointments during the pandemic, plans are now in place to start offering appointments as soon as possible and services will have measures in place to protect people from coronavirus,” she says.
“While cervical cancer takes a long time to develop, we would strongly encourage any patients who are worried to seek help from their GP if they have symptoms, and if you are invited to attend a screening appointment, please do.”
It’s an important reminder for anyone who has missed their smear test over the last few months to make sure they book one in as soon as possible.
The most effective method of preventing cervical cancer is through regular cervical screening, which allows detection of any early changes to the cells of the cervix.
These changes are fully treatable, but if undetected and untreated they can lead to cervical cancer in a some women.
Cervical screening is a preventative measure that’s thought to save around 5,000 lives a year in the UK.
You can find out how to book a smear test on the NHS website. Alternatively, call your GP to arrange an appointment.
If you’re experiencing symptoms such as bleeding after sex, bleeding between periods, bleeding after menopause, or unusual vaginal discharge, you do not need to wait until you’re due a routine smear. Call your GP right away to arrange an appointment.
Alternatively you can find more information on the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website.