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National charity launches bus campaign in Leeds after 1 in 5 women fail to attend cervical screening

Mon, 15/06/2015 - 00:01
  • Advertising campaign coincides with Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW, 15-21 June 2015) 

The UK's only dedicated cervical cancer charity, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, has launched advertising on buses in Leeds urging women to have regular cervical screening tests as 1 in 5 Leeds women do not attend when invited, putting themselves at risk of developing cervical cancer. The campaign is now live and runs until 5 July 2015 coinciding with Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW, 15-21 June).

Leeds was chosen as one of four cities for focused activity following NHS statistics[1] showing that screening uptake in Leeds has fallen for a second year in a row. Across all age groups[2] 21.6% failed to attend their screening in 2013-14 compared to 20.5% in 2012-13 to 20.3% in 2011-12.

The charity is particularly concerned about women aged 50-64 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 and Leeds is no different. In the city[3] numbers increase from 16.8% of 50-54 year olds to 24.8% of 55-59 year olds and 27% of 60-64 year olds, suggesting that as a woman ages, 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[4]. 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 National Screening Programme saves around 5,000 lives every year and yet 1 in 5 women in Leeds 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 Leeds bus campaign gives us the chance to reach hundreds of thousands of 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

  1. Jo's Cervical Cancer trust – www.jostrust.org.uk - is the UK's only dedicated cervical cancer charity offering support and information for those affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities.
  2. The charity's national helpline is on 0808 802 8000. It can be called by anyone within the UK and offers reliable information, support and signposting on a wide range of topics, including initial screening concerns and screening results, treatment, recovery and palliative care.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Cervical cancer is predominantly caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which can be caught as soon as you had genital-to-genital contact.
  6. HPV can remain 'dormant' (inactive) or persistent in the body, sometimes between 5 and 20 years. If your immune system doesn't clear the infection and/or the abnormal cells are not removed or monitored, the DNA of the HPV virus can join with the DNA of the epithelial cells, creating cancer cells. This is why cervical screening and HPV vaccination are important in helping to spot abnormalities and prevent cancer.
  7. Research has shown that changes in abnormalities do not usually escalate quickly and it can take between 5 to 20 years for cancer to develop.

[1] Cervical Screening Programme, England 2013-14, Published by HSCIC, November 25 2014

[2] 25-64 years olds (less than 5 years since last adequate test)

[3] HSCIC, Cervical Screening England, 2013-14 coverage less than 5 years

[4] Censuswide. Total sample size 1519 women aged 50-64. Fieldwork undertaken between 5-12 May 2015