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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] or 07772 290064 (including out of hours media enquiries)

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 a day are diagnosed which is around 3000 a year
  • 2 will lose their life every day
  • It is the second most common cancer in women, after breast
  • It is most common in women aged 30-34
  • It is usually symptomless, but the most common symptom is bleeding in between periods or after sex
  • Other symptoms include post-menopausal bleeding, unusual discharge, unexplained pain between hipbones and pain during sex.
  • While in most age groups, cervical cancer diagnoses are decreasing, they are on the rise in over 60’s.
  • In 2015, there were 3126 diagnoses of cervical cancer which rose from 2843 a decade earlier in 2005.
  • Deaths from cervical cancer are falling, there were 854 in 2016 which fell from 949 a decade earlier in 2006. 

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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, Wales 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, you are invited every five years regardless of your age
  • 1 in 4 do not attend when invited and 1 in 3 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

  • In Wales and England, the cervical screening programme now tests for HPV
  • In Scotland this change will take place in March 2020, we hope to see it implemented in Northern Ireland as soon as possible
  • Cervical screening tests for high-risk HPV, which can cause cervical cell changes to develop into cervical cancer over time
  • HPV primary screening is a better test than the old method (called cytology). It is more accurate and finds more people who are at higher risk of developing cervical cancer
  • If you are found to have high-risk HPV, your sample will be tested for cell changes

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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
  • 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 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) 
  • It is available on the NHS if you are under 18 years old.
  • Gardasil, the vaccine offered on the NHS, protects against four strains of HPV including two high risk strains, 16 and 18, linked to cervical cancer
  • It protects against around 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.