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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 showing that screening uptake in Leeds has fallen for a second year in a row. Across all age groups 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 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. 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