Cervical Cancer Prevention
Raising awareness about Cervical Cancer Prevention is key. Natalie Hickton shared her story to highlight the risks of cervical cancer and the importance of being diagnosed early.
There are around 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK every year, accounting for 2% of all new cancer cases in females in the UK. Cervical cancer is preventable and curable if detected and treated early and the NHS estimates that 55,000 lives could be saved every year by diagnosing more cancers early.
Cervical screening offers the greatest protection against cervical cancer with smear tests preventing 75% of cervical cancers. Royal Marsden patient Natalie Hickton shared her story to raise awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and the importance of being diagnosed early. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015 and received treatment at The Royal Marsden.
Natalie’s story: I was facing the risk of not having children in the future.
“I wasn’t going for the routine check-ups, then I went overseas for two years before coming back home, and getting married” Natalie recalls. “My husband and I started thinking about children and I thought I needed to get everything checked out. It had been about five years without a smear test because of certain circumstances.”
In June 2015, aged just 32, Natalie received the overwhelming news that she had cervical cancer. Within a few months, Natalie had undergone two operations.
If Natalie had been diagnosed just a few years earlier she would likely have needed, a complete hysterectomy, leaving her unable to become pregnant.
Thanks to the amazing research and technology at The Royal Marsden, I was able to avoid having a hysterectomy.
Instead, Natalie was able to have fertility-saving robotic surgery.
The Royal Marsden is well known as the most comprehensive centre for robotic cancer surgery in the UK, ensuring patients have access to the latest techniques and treatments. Using the da Vinci surgical robot, funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, surgeons were able to use 3D magnification to see Natalie’s cancer in much closer detail to identify any areas at risk of spreading.
She was discharged just one night after her operation and given the all-clear four months after her diagnosis. “Hearing that I had the all-clear, I was elated. Thankfully I was one of the lucky ones; we caught it relatively early I felt very supported by my family and friends, but I felt angry with myself that I hadn’t been for my check-ups earlier than I did. Ever since I have been a bit of an advocate to get tested.”
Becoming a mum
“Six months after I had the all clear I asked my doctor if I was able to start trying for a baby, which I was. We were very lucky, I fell pregnant almost immediately.
“I have had constant care from my surgeon, Mr. Ind, the whole way through. When I got pregnant, he said he would like to see me when I turned 24 weeks as the early weeks of pregnancy can be quite risky.
“I do owe Mr. Ind my life and giving me the ability to have two children out of it. I could have had a hysterectomy, but he knew that I was of an age where I would be thinking about having a family. He told me that they were going to do their best to give me the chance of having children"
I have now got a four-year-old and an 18-month-old. I feel incredibly lucky. My two sons are a complete gift. They are like two little miracles.
Natalie’s words of advice
“For anyone worried about having a cervical smear test, it takes about 30 seconds and it could save your life. It is great that young people can now be vaccinated for the HPV virus too which helps to prevent cervical cancer.
Women still need to be encouraged to look after themselves, and my advice would be to please go and get checked out if you’re worried about anything.”
It has now been five years since Natalie was given the all-clear. She is still having check-ups and smear tests regularly. She says, “For the first couple of years I would have them every three months, then this moved to six months, and now I have annual check-ups."
“I cannot thank the team at The Royal Marsden enough"
Thanks to new advances, The Royal Marsden is successfully treating gynaecological cancers in more patients than ever before. As well as pioneering surgery, we are also researching new drug treatments and funding drug trials for gynaecological cancers, thanks to the support of organisations like The Lady Garden Foundation, in order to develop new treatments that will support not only patients at The Royal Marsden but all over the UK and the world.