The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has published new guidance calling for registered nurses to take a more hands-on role in educating patients on the need for human papillomavirus (HPV) screening.
The HPV, Cervical Screening and Cervical Cancer guidelines provide detailed information on the risks associated with HPV and how regular screening makes a positive difference to general health.
It calls for nursing staff to take every opportunity available to them to increase awareness among both women and men about the risks of HPV, while also providing clinical information on the different types of cervical cancer, their diagnosis and treatment, and how the HPV vaccine can help to provide essential protection.
This guidance was developed to coincide with the recent Cervical Screening Awareness Week, and is designed to help address the current poor level of understanding of the importance of cervical screening.
It is estimated that one in four women do not attend cervical screening appointments at the moment, leaving them at risk of undetected pre-cancerous cells resulting from high-risk HPV.
Moreover, a recent survey of 25 to 29-year-olds by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust found that 70 per cent of young women do not think cervical screening reduces their risk of cervical cancer, while one-quarter said they were too embarrassed to attend the screenings.
This highlights the importance of nursing staff providing informed and sensitive care to women who attend these appointments.
Carmel Bagness, professional lead for midwifery and women's health at the RCN, said: "This guidance provides nursing staff with the tools they need to perform cervical screening and stresses the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer.
"All registered nurses and midwives who undertake cervical screenings must have access to training programmes and ongoing continuing professional development opportunities, to enhance service provision and aim to help reduce the barriers which may prevent women from accessing these vital services."
Written by James Puckle
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