I’m dying of cervical cancer at 25 – a smear test could have saved me
Sept. 18, 2019
HEARING the word "cancer" at any age is devastating - but for Paige Hart it was something she could have never imagined.
The 25-year-old, from Nottingham, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cervical cancer in November last year.
Then aged 24 and not yet eligible for a smear test, Paige says her symptoms weren't picked up on - despite seeing her GP four times.
She says she had suffered bleeding and back pain but was told she had an inflamed pelvis.
But it was only at her fourth and final appointment that tests revealed she actually had stage 3b cervical cancer.
After months of intense radiotherapy and chemotherapy, she was given the all clear.
However, she started to suffer with intense pain and further tests showed the cancer had spread to lymph nodes in her neck, chest and stomach.
She was told the cancer is treatable, but not curable, and she's begun yet another course of aggressive chemotherapy.
Lower the age
Paige believes that is she had been offered a smear test at a younger age it could have saved her life.
She said: "I'm really angry, I feel like the NHS have let me down.
"If I'd have had a smear test a few years ago the cancer would definitely have been found.
"By the time it was found it was stage 3B which was fairly well progressed.
"The future is uncertain, I need to live everyday now like it's my last, it's been a really terrible year.
"I'm living a half life. I can't live but I can't plan for anything. I don't know what's going to happen at all."
I was only 24 at the time and I suspect that they just thought I was too young Paige Hart
Speaking of her ordeal, she said: "I was constantly bleeding. I went to the doctor but they just palmed me off with tablets.
"They said I had an inflamed pelvis and there was nothing wrong with me.
"I was only 24 at the time and I suspect that they just thought I was too young to get something like cervical cancer.
"I saw a different female doctor on the fourth visit who said something wasn't right with my cervix.
"I went straight to hospital and then into theatre so they could stop the bleeding. It was then that that they diagnosed me with cervical cancer.
When the cancer was actually found it was too far gone."
Paige is speaking out in a bid to get the screening age lowered from 25.
She added: "I think the age needs to be lowered to when people are first sexually active.
"It's ten years since Jade Goody passed away but the doctor's must have thought 'she's only 24 so it can't be cervical cancer'.
"The age the test takes place needs lowering.
"Despite everything I'm trying to keep positive and live life to the full."
Professor Anne Mackie, Director of Programmes, UK National Screening Committee, said: “The UK National Screening Committee does not recommend cervical screening to those under 25 years of age as thankfully cervical cancer in young women in their teens and early 20s is very rare.
"So the benefits of screening these younger women, most of who have already been vaccinated against the two most important types of HPV that causes cervical cancer, are small.
"Harmless and common changes in the cervix are very common in young women and in most cases resolve themselves without any need for treatment.
"If we were to screen women under 25 these changes could lead to unnecessary and harmful tests and treatments.
“Almost all cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) – HPV vaccination is very effective against the infection and as the uptake of the vaccine has been very good since 2008, there is less reason to lower the age of cervical screening.
"The vaccine has led to a dramatic reduction in HPV infection in young women in England and we anticipate a fall in the numbers diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 24-25 in 2019.
“It is still important for women to have cervical screening when invited, even if you have been vaccinated.”
Paige's friends and family are currently raising money to support her on GoFundMe .
YouTuber Zoella films her smear test to raise awareness of cervical cancer screening
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