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Cervical screening: PHE launches new campaign

Written by: Alex Turnbull | Published: 06 March 2019

Public Health England (PHE) has launched the Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ campaign, which aims to increase the number of women attending their cervical screening across England.

The campaign will encourage women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter, and if they missed their last screening, to book an appointment at their GP practice.

Approximately 2600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease, which is 2 deaths every day. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.

‘The decline in numbers getting screened for cervical cancer is a major concern as it means millions of women are missing out on a potentially life-saving test. Two women die every day in England from cervical cancer, yet it is one of the most preventable cancers if caught early,’ said Professor Anne Mackie, Director of Screening Programmes at PHE.

‘We want to see a future generation free of cervical cancer but we will only achieve our vision if women take up their screening invitations. This is a simple test which takes just five minutes and could save your life. It’s just not worth ignoring.’

Research from PHE shows that 90% of women eligible for screening would be likely to take a test that could help prevent cancer. Additionally, 94% of those who have attended screening would encourage others who are worried to attend their cervical screening. Despite this, screening is at a 20-year low, with 1 in 4 eligible women (those aged 25 to 64) in the UK not attending their test.

The research also shows that once they have been screened, the vast majority of women feel positive about the experience, with 87% stating they are ‘glad they went’ and that they were ‘put at ease by the nurse or doctor doing the test’.

‘It is a tragedy that women are needlessly dying of cancer when a simple test can identify any risks early on. We hope this new campaign – the first of its kind in this country – will save lives and I am delighted to see it launch,’ said Steve Brine, Public Health Minister.

‘Improving cancer detection and diagnosis is a core part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS, and from April, any patients with suspected cancer will begin to receive a diagnosis or the all clear within 28 days, and £200 million is being invested to fund new ways to rapidly detect and treat cancer.’