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Media centre

As the UK's leading cervical cancer charity, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust can provide comment and interviews on every aspect of cervical cancer and prevention.

Our spokespeople regularly talk to the media and we have hundreds of media volunteers with personal experience of cervical cancer, cell changes (abnormal cells) or HPV. We also have the latest statistics and imagery to fit every story.

Below are some key UK statistics and facts about our main topics. For local statistics on cervical screening uptake, please contact the press office.

For media enquiries please contact [email protected] 

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of press enquiries we get, we aren’t able to assist student journalists with interviews or quotes. However we have lots of information on our website you are welcome to use.

  • 9 women and people with a cervix are diagnosed every day, which is around 3000 a year
  • 2 will lose their life every day
  • It is most common in women and people with a cervix aged 30–34
  • It can have no symptoms, but the most common symptoms are:
    • unusual vaginal bleeding — including after the menopause, after sex, or between regular periods
    • unusual vaginal discharge 
    • pain during sex
    • unexplained pain in the lower back or between the hip bones
  • In England between 2013 and 2020:
    • the number of cervical cancer diagnoses dropped from 2,687 to 2,371
    • deaths from cervical cancer fell from 721 to 702

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  • Cervical screening prevents around 75% of cancers from ever starting
  • Cervical screening identifies people who are at a higher risk of develping cervical cancer
  • Screening saves thousands of lives every year. It is the best protection against cervical cancer
  • 5 million women are invited to have cervical screening every year
  • In England and Northern Ireland, you are invited every 3 years between the ages of 25-49, and every 5 years between the ages of 50-64
  • In Scotland and Wales, you are invited every five years regardless of your age
  • Throughout the UK, almost 1 in 3 do not attend when invited and only 1 in 2 young women do not attend
  • Attending screening is not easy for everyone; there are lots of reasons for which some find it difficult. These include, to name a few, getting an appointment, a previous bad experience, past trauma, embarrassment and not understanding what the test is for. 

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HPV primary screening

  • HPV primary screening is used in all four UK countries
  • HPV primary screening means that:
    • cervical screening samples are first tested for high-risk HPV, which can cause cervical cell changes
    • if high-risk HPV is found in a sample, it will then be looked at under a microscope for cervical cell changes (cytology). Cell changes might turn into cervical cancer over time
  • HPV primary screening is a better way of testing compared to the old system, which used cytology first. HPV primary screening is more sensitive and a more accurate way of identifying those at higher risk of developing cervical cancer

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  • 99.7% of cervical cancers are caused by high risk strains of HPV, particularly types 16 and 18. There are hundreds of other strains
  • 8 out of 10 sexually active adults will get HPV at some point in their lives 
  • 9 out of 10 people clear a HPV infection within two years
  • It can be passed on through any intimate contact including penetrative sex, oral sex, anal sex and touching in the genital area. This includes protected sex, so it is not possible to fully prevent getting HPV
  • HPV can be dormant in your body for a long time before it becomes detectable which means it’s almost impossible to know who you got it from

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  • 220,000 women are told they have cervical cell changes (abnormal cells) every year
  • This is not cancer, but could go onto become cancer if not treated or monitored
  • We avoid using the term ‘pre-cancerous cells’ – not every diagnosis of cell changes would go on to become cancer
  • Not all cell changes require treatment 
  • Cell changes are looked at in more detail at a colposcopy clinic where a doctor or nurse use a microscope called a colposcope to look at your cervix.
  • The most common treatment to remove them is a LLETZ procedure (large loop excision of the transformation zone)

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  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is offered to schoolchildren aged 12-13 (in Scotland 11-13) 
  • Find out more about who can have it, including if you're under 25 and missed having it at school > 
  • It protects against at least 70% of cervical cancers making it highly effective, however it's still recommended that you attend cervical screening too
  • Vaccine coverage is generally high at over 80% in all 4 countries in the UK
  • However, there is wide regional variation in HPV vaccine uptake, ranging from 94.3% in North Yorkshire to 65.3% in Hammersmith and Fulham.

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Cervical screening is the best protection against cervical cancer and can save lives. However, it is not an easy test for everybody. We urge journalists to be sensitive and supportive when talking about screening and acknowledge that there are many barriers to attending, some traumatic and complex. We believe that encouragement, support and inclusive language is the best way to help everyone who wants to attend a smear test do so.

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Find out about our experts who are regularly talking to the media and read stories of some of our fantastic media volunteers.

Read our lastest research and reports.

Read our latest press releases, statements and comments.