The campaign urges women to attend their cervical screening, with data revealing that the number of women attending screening has fallen to a 20-year low
Public Health England (PHE) has launched major new national campaign, ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ to increase the number of women attending their cervical screening across England.
The campaign aims to encourage women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter, and if they missed their last screening, to book an appointment at their GP practice.
Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and nearly 700 women die from the disease (an average of two deaths each day). It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.
The new research from PHE shows that nearly all women eligible for screening (90%) would be likely to take a test that could help prevent cancer - and of those who have attended screening, 94% would encourage others who are worried to attend their own screening.
Despite this, screening is at a 20-year low, with one in four eligible women (those aged between 25 and 64) in the UK not attending their test.
‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ provides practical information about how to make the test more comfortable, and gives reassurance to women, who may be fearful of finding out they have cancer, that screening is, in fact, not a test for cancer.
Cervical screening can help stop cervical cancer before it starts. Regular screening, which only takes a few minutes, identifies potentially harmful cells before they become cancerous, ensuring women get the right treatment as soon as possible.
The PHE research shows that after attending their screening, the majority of women feel positive about the experience. 87% of women say they are “glad they went”, while 84% said that they were “put at ease by the nurse or doctor doing the test”.
Professor Anne Mackie, Director of Screening Programmes at PHE said: “The decline in numbers getting screened for cervical cancer is a major concern as it means millions of women are missing out on a potentially life-saving test.
“Two women die every day in England from cervical cancer, yet it is one of the most preventable cancers if caught early.
“We want to see a future generation free of cervical cancer but we will only achieve our vision if women take up their screening invitations. This is a simple test which takes just five minutes and could save your life. It’s just not worth ignoring.”
The campaign isn’t the first to encourage cervical screening, but it is a welcome addition to the conversation. In recent years we have seen an upturn in screening-related posts and campaigns on social media, including #SmearForSmear run by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
The campaign adverts will run on television, radio and online for eight weeks, beginning 5 March.
'Cervical Screening Saves Lives' is backed by Loose Women presenter Christine Lampard who said she will encourage her daughter, Patsy, to go for screening when she is eligible to do so.
“I can’t say I’m thrilled when my cervical screening invite is posted through my door, but I know how important it is that I get tested. It’s an awkward five minutes that could save your life,” she said.
“As a mother, I will never ignore my screening invitation and when my daughter, Patsy, is old enough, I’ll encourage her to attend her screenings too. As women we should talk positively about our bodies and the importance of cervical screening - it’s an important way to protect our health.”
The campaign is supported by a number of charities, including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Eve Appeal and Lady Garden. Activity includes new advertising on TV and other channels, together with the cascade of information through GP surgeries and pharmacies.
For further information about cervical screening, visit your GP or visit the NHS cervical screening resources. And speak to your friends and family if you’re nervous. Support each other, encourage each other to go and talk about your experiences.