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The UK's only dedicated cervical cancer charity, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, has launched advertising on buses in Manchester urging women to have regular cervical screening tests as almost 1 in 3 Manchester women do not attend when invited, putting them at risk of developing cervical cancer. The campaign is now live and runs until the 5 July 2015 coinciding with Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW, 15-21 June).
Manchester was chosen as one of four cities for focused activity following NHS statistics showing that screening uptake in the city is way below the national average and is the lowest in the North West. Across all age groups 28.9% failed to attend screening compared to 23.1% in the North West and 22.2% across England. These numbers increase even further among 50-64 year olds of which 29.8% failed to attend.
The charity is particularly concerned about women over 50 and is using CSAW to highlight the importance of cervical screening and that cervical cancer affects older women as well as young. Across the UK figures for those not attending screening show a significant rise as age increases for those aged 50-64 and Manchester is no different. In the city numbers increase from 24.6% of 50-54 year olds to 32.4% of 55-59 year olds and 35.2% of 60-64 year olds, suggesting that as a woman nears the end of the programme and is invited less frequently (every five years as opposed to three), she considers screening less important.
A lack of knowledge about the cause of cervical cancer and who can be affected seems to be contributing to older women not attending cervical screening, as found by the charity's new research. Almost two thirds (60%) of women aged 50-64 do not know HPV causes cervical cancer and many failed to link historic sexual activity as a threat to the virus laying dormant and developing into cervical cancer later in life. Alongside knowledge gaps the data also revealed that 29.1% of women over 50 have found the test painful since growing older, including 24.4% experiencing pain since going through the menopause.
The campaign has been funded by healthcare provider Simplyhealth. Simplyhealth helps people access affordable healthcare through health cash plans, dental plans, private medical insurance, and mobility and living aids. It follows mutual values and donates more than £1m to health related charities every year.
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust said: "The NHS Cervical Screening Programme saves around 5,000 UK lives every year and yet 1 in 3 women in Manchester failed to attend screening last year. It's time that we see a shift in awareness of the importance of screening across women of all ages and until a woman is no longer invited.
"The Manchester bus campaign gives us the chance to reach over one million residents and remind local women who have missed or delayed their screening that this is a test that could save their lives. We're very grateful Simplyhealth funded this campaign and is helping us to reach so many women."
Mark Hamson, chairman of Simplyhealth Charitable Committee comments: "We're proud to support Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust with its screening programme campaign. It is vital to raise awareness about the importance of cervical screenings to try and reduce the number of women affected each year."
For further information contact the press office on 020 7250 8311 or email [email protected]
Notes for Editors