Jade Goody’s legacy was to raise awareness of cervical cancer among younger women – but have we learned enough?
In the run up to cervical screening awareness week, more than 20 per cent of women in the UK still fail to attend cervical screening when invited, and The Eve Appeal is determined to encourage more women to attend
Over the past 10 years, we have seen a downward trend in the number of women screened. Apart from an increase in 2009 associated with media attention around Jade’s sad death, coverage has fallen or stayed the same since 2003 when it was 81 per cent. Cervical screening can prevent cervical cancer and is estimated to save up to 5,000 lives a year.
Each year in the UK more than 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and more than half of these are in women under 50. Although rare in women under 25, it is the second most common cancer in women under 35.
For women of all ages, the best way of reducing your risk of developing cervical cancer is regular screening.
It is important to understand that cervical screening is not screening for gynaecological cancers, rather for abnormal cells on the cervix which can lead to cervical cancer.
Abnormal cells on the cervix don’t usually have any symptoms, which is why it is so important to go for screenings regularly. If there are signs of abnormal cells, treating them is often simple and can prevent cancer developing.
Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by a common sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV) which most women have at some time but usually clears up on its own. If the infection doesn’t clear up there is a risk of abnormal cells developing which could become cervical cancer over time.
To reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer, go for screening when invited, have the HPV vaccine if you are offered it, if you smoke, try to stop and use a condom to reduce your risk of HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.
The Eve Appeal.