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Targeted campaign launched as figures show BME women fail to see the relevance of cervical screening

Mon, 02/07/2012 - 01:00

Campaign marks Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Week (2-8 July 2012)

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s only charity dedicated to those affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities, and the NHS National Cancer Action Team (NCAT) has launched an advert to run in GP waiting rooms to target Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities following a survey by the charity highlighting a worrying lack of awareness around cervical cancer prevention amongst BME women [1].

Launching during Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Week (EMCAW), the advert is produced in partnership with NCAT’s ‘Cancer does not discriminate campaign’, which aims to increase cancer screening uptake and raise awareness of the early signs of cancer amongst people from black and minority ethnic communities. Carrying the message ‘cervical screening saves lives’ it will run in 30 surgeries for five months in areas with a higher BME population. This includes surgeries in London, Leicester, Leeds and Nottingham.

Research commissioned by the charity highlighted a level of misunderstanding from BME women around the subject of cervical cancer and the importance of cervical screening (smear) with only 65% of BME women in the survey believing the life saving test is a necessary one compared to 73% of white women. Similarly of those invited for screening, four times as many BME women as white women said ‘it did not seem relevant to me’. Results also showed a desire for more information with almost half of BME women in the survey (43%) calling for a more detailed explanation of the risks of not being screened.

Robert Music, Director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Our survey highlighted that in all areas of questioning BME women were considerably less aware of the issues surrounding cervical cancer prevention compared to white women and this alerted us to a need for a more targeted awareness drive amongst ethnic communities. With the cervical screening programme saving 5,000 lives in the UK each year, this lack of knowledge means BME women are less likely to attend their screening test putting their lives at risk.”

Paula Lloyd Knight, Associate Director Patient Experience, NCAT said: Cancer affects all communities and cervical cancer is one that can be prevented. With strong evidence suggesting that BME women are less likely to take up their screening invitation and consequently present with symptoms when the disease is at a later stage we are delighted to be partnering with Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust to specifically reach those whose test has been missed or is overdue.”

For further information contact Maddy Durrant, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust on 020 7936 7498/ 07772 290 064 or email [email protected].

Further information

  • 1/3rd more BME women of screening age (12%) compared to white women (8%) said they had never attended a cervical screening appointment.
  • 70% of Asian women aged 20-65 knew that screening is a test to check cells from the cervix to find pre-cancerous abnormalities against 91% of white women aged 20-65.
  • 53% of BME women aged 55-65 think screening is a necessary health test against 67% of white women aged 55-65.
  • Almost half (45%) of white women would be comfortable talking to a male GP about cervical screening but only 28% of BME women agreed.
  • Twice as many BME women as white women said better knowledge about the test and why it is important would encourage them to attend (30% against 14%).

Notes to editor

  • EMCAW is funded by both Cancer Equality and National Cancer Action Team. For more information on the ‘cancer does not discriminate campaign visit:
  • The National Cancer Action Team is a national NHS team responsible for supporting improvements in NHS cancer services, for more information visit:
  • Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust – ( For the charity's national helpline call 0808 802 8000.
  • Around three women in the UK die each day from cervical cancer, with someone being diagnosed every three hours, facing an uncertain future.
  • Over 300,000 women a year are told they may have a cervical abnormality that could require treatment.
  • It is estimated that the UK Cervical Screening Programmes save 5,000 lives every year and if HPV vaccination take up continues to reach at least 80% it is believed this could result in a 2/3rds reduction in incidence in women under 30 by 2025.
  • Cervical cancer is predominantly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can be caught as soon as you start having intimate relationships.


1. From YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1179 white women and 1177 BME women aged 20-65. Fieldwork undertaken between 30 June – 7 July 2011 The survey was carried out online.