Hoping to dismantle the stigma that surrounds cervical cancer screenings, Chloe Delevingne underwent a pap smear on a live UK television program.
Delevingne, co-founder of the Lady Garden Foundation cervical cancer charity and sister of models Cara and Poppy Delevingne, had the test performed during a BBC Two program presented by Victoria Derbyshire. Delevingne knows firsthand the importance of cervical cancer testing; when she was 21, she began to experience irregular bleeding and abdominal pains, and, after undergoing a smear, was found to have precancerous cells. She underwent a medical procedure to have the cells removed.
The smear, Delevingne said during her live test is “not painful … just weird,” according to the Guardian.
Pap smears only take around 30 seconds, but they can save lives by catching pre-cancerous or early cervical cancer cells. A recent survey by the U.K. charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, however, found that in some areas of the country, one in three women do not take the test every three years, as is recommended by the National Health Service for women between the ages of 25 and 49. When asked about the causes for the delay, 58 percent of women cited a fear of pain, and 72 percent said they were embarrassed to have a stranger examine this area of their bodies.
Nor is this a phenomenon limited to the U.K. A recent study of women in Minnesota, for instance, also documented low rates of smear tests. According to that research, only 54 percent of women between the ages of 21 and 29 were up-to-date with their cervical cancer screening, while 65 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 65 were on track with their smears. Experts cited a number of factors that might be causing the delay in getting tested, including lack of insurance coverage, confusion over changing guidelines that dictate when women should be tested, and the false assumption that a lack of symptoms means there is no problem.
“The hallmark of cervical cancer is that there are no symptoms [when it comes to precancer],” Chicago-based ob-gyn Wendy Goodall McDonald, MD told Health. “Detecting precancerous changes in the cervix requires a microscopic evaluation.”
Read more at the Guardian.