An NHS vaccination programme to prevent cervical cancer has so far managed to stop thousands of women developing the disease, according to a study.

It also reported that the vaccine has stopped thousands from experiencing pre-cancerous changes to cells.

The Cancer Research UK-funded study launched in England 13 years ago has produced the first direct evidence of cervical cancer prevention through the use of a vaccine for two types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is the virus that causes it.

The study found that those who were offered the HPV vaccine between the ages of 12 and 13 (who would now be in their 20s) were 87 percent lower cervical cancer rates than in an unvaccinated population.

Researchers said cases in this age group, which are already rare at about 50 a year dropped to just five.

Cervical cancer rates also dropped by 62 percent for women that were offered the vaccine between the ages of 14 and 16, and there was a 34 percent reduction for women aged 16 to 18 when vaccination was introduced.

With this news it might be useful for people to know what the symptoms of cervical cancer actually are, and how to book a screening.

What are the symptoms for cervical cancer?

According to the NHS website, symptoms for cervical cancer are the following:

  • vaginal bleeding that's unusual for you – including bleeding during or after sex, between your periods or after the menopause, or having heavier periods than usual
  • changes to your vaginal discharge
  • pain during sex
  • pain in your lower back, between your hip bones (pelvis), or in your lower tummy

How to get a cervical cancer smear test

Women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited for regular cervical cancer screenings (smear tests) every 3-5 years.

This regular screening would see you an individual get an invitation letter in the post telling then how to book.

However, if someone were to experience symptoms outside of the screening invitation times then they would need to contact their GP about an appointment.