Less than a third of women could recognise cervical cancer symptoms

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Nobody ever really believes they could get a life-threatening illness when they're young - we all somehow believe we're invincible in our twenties and thirties, and even beyond.

But in reality, that's not the case. And while we don't want to spend our lives worrying about something that might never happen, it can certainly pay to be aware of the symptoms that could indicate a potentially dangerous illness.

Which is why recent research carried out by YouGov is quite concerning: only three in every ten women would be able to confidently recognise the symptoms of cervical cancer.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Each year in the UK there are around 3,200 diagnoses of cervical cancer, which amounts to nearly 9 new cases every day. According to Cancer Research, it's the 14th most common cancer in women in this country. So why do almost two thirds of young believe they couldn't confidently identify the symptoms?

YouGov surveyed 1,650 British women aged between 18 and 49, and asked them whether they would feel 'confident', 'not very confident', or 'not at all confident' that they would be able to spot the symptoms of cervical cancer. 64% of the women reported either being 'not very' or 'not at all' confident they could recognise the signs of cervical cancer.

Even more concerning is that almost eight in ten (79%) 18 to 24 year olds said they were not confident they would recognise the symptoms.


The main symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding - which can occur during or after sex or in between periods, according to the NHS. However, it's important to remember that irregular bleeding doesn't automatically mean you've got cervical cancer; it's just something to keep an eye on if you experience it increasingly frequently and heavily.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Another sign of cervical cancer that many people aren't aware of is uncomfortable bloating and stomach pains. Others include lower back pain, sore legs, pain during sex, unexplained weight loss and unusual discharge. But just as with the abnormal bleeding, you shouldn't panic if you notice any of these symptoms - it's far more likely there's something less sinister than cancer at play.

The main thing you can do to look after yourself, experts advise, is attend your cervical cancer screenings, which check for any abnormal cells developing in your cervix. Most women will be invited for one of these once every three years from the age of 25, however if any abnormalities have been previously detected you may be invited to attend a smear test more frequently.

"Cervical screening saves thousands of lives each year by detecting changes in the cervix before they develop into cancer," Sophie Lowes, health information officer at Cancer Research UK previously told Cosmopolitan. "Women aged 25-64, who are registered with a GP, are automatically invited for screening."

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