“The sooner they pick it up, the easier it is to manage,” the TV star, who is awaiting results from a biopsy, reassured her fans.
In the UK, women are encouraged to attend a smear test every two years. The procedure – which takes around five minutes – detects cell changes which, if untreated, could go on to develop into cervical cancer.
As cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in women under the age of 35, smear tests are estimated to save around 5,000 lives a year in the UK. However, the latest statistics from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust have revealed that many women are delaying their tests – or failing to attend them entirely – because they feel scared (71%) and vulnerable (75%) at the thought of going.
Which is why Scarlett Moffatt – who first found fame on Channel 4’s Gogglebox – decided to share her own abnormal smear test results with her followers in a bid to remind them of the importance of regular testing.
In a video posted to her Instagram Stories, Moffatt revealed she is now waiting for the results from a follow-up biopsy.
“I went for the smear, something came back. They detected something… lots of people have to go for biopsies and again I worked myself up about it, but I still went,” she said.
“It was four minutes of discomfort for something that as a little bit uncomfortable, but I went because could save my life. The sooner they pick it up, it’s easier to manage.”
Moffatt went on to praise the NHS, before reassuring her followers: “I get my results back in a couple of days. And hopefully it comes back to say that in a year’s time I’ll have to go for a smear test or even fingers crossed it’ll say, ‘In three years’ time you’ll have to go for a smear test’. But it is so important. Imagine if I kept leaving it and leaving it?
“Things can be done if it’s detected really early on… please, please, please go for your smear.”
Most women will have “normal” results from the screening, while around one in 20 will be told they have “abnormal changes” in the cells of their cervix.
When asked if we should worry about “abnormal changes”, Dr Vanessa Mackay, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), previously told Stylist: “An abnormal test result does not mean a woman has or will get cancer, it just means some of the cells are abnormal.
“The cells may go back to normal on their own, however, in some cases the abnormal cells need to be removed so they don’t become cancerous.”
To help prevent an abnormal smear test result, the NHS recommends that you book your appointment for the middle of your menstrual cycle, around 14 days after the start of your last period, to get the best sample of cells possible.
It also recommends that you should avoid using barrier methods of contraception (such as a condom or diaphragm) or spermicide or lubricant jelly, in the 24 hours before you take the test.
If you have received an invitation for a smear test with your local GP and haven’t yet booked one, it’s highly recommended that you do so as soon as possible. Worries and concerns are normal, but they shouldn’t prevent you from attending a screening.
Still feeling anxious? We put the most common questions about smear tests to a doctor – and her answers were truly reassuring. You can check them out here.