Cervical Screening Awareness Week (10 – 16  June 2012)  WHAT ALL WOMEN NEED TO KNOW…

Cervical cancer has attracted much media coverage in recent years, largely because of Jade Goody’s sad death from the disease – but have we learned enough?  In the run up to Cervical Screening Awareness Week in June, 20% of women in the UK still fail to attend cervical screening when invited.

Cervical Screening Awareness Week press release

My Story by Rebecca Brown


A lot can be done to prevent cervical cancer

Immediately after Jade’s death there was a rise in the number of women attending screening but this number is now falling again.

Each year in the UK 2,900 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and more than half of these are in women under the age of 50. Although very rare in women under 25, it is the second most common cancer in women under 35.

The Eve Appeal’s face-to-face survey[1] of 1,400 women in England, has also identified a common misconception amongst women with regards to cervical screening, with 56% of women incorrectly believing that screening can also pick up signs of ovarian cancer.

Says Dr Jo Waller, Senior Research Associate, Health Behaviour Research Centre, UCL, “This reflects confusion about the different gynaecological cancers and reproductive anatomy, and indicates that many women believe that cervical screening is a more general check-up than is actually the case.’

For women of all ages, the best way of reducing your risk of developing cervical cancer is regular screening and in England women aged 25 to 49 are invited for screening every 3 years, and screening continues every 5 years for women aged 50 to 64. However it is important to understand that cervical screening is not screening for gynaecological cancers, rather for abnormal cells on the cervix which can lead to cervical cancer.

Abnormal cells on the cervix don’t usually have any symptoms, which is why it is so important to go for screenings regularly. If there are signs of abnormal cells, treating them is often simple and can prevent cancer developing.

Comments Robert Marsh, CEO of The Eve Appeal, “Our hopes are that increased awareness around the importance of regular screening, along with further understanding as to what the screening is set out to detect, will help dispel any outstanding myths and encourage women to attend their cervical screening promptly when invited.”

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by a common sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV) which most women have at some time but usually clears up on its own. If the infection doesn’t clear up there is a risk of abnormal cells developing which could become cervical cancer over time.

Almost all cases of cervical cancer can be prevented by screening and HPV vaccination. Says Robert Marsh, CEO of The Eve Appeal “The earlier cervical cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome will be. Screening is free and can save your life so please, please pick up the phone as soon as that letter drops through the letterbox.”

To reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer:

  • Go for screening when invited
  • Have the HPV vaccine if you are offered it
  • If you smoke, try to stop
  • Use a condom to reduce your risk of HPV and  other sexually transmitted infections.

Further information: Liz Engel, The Eve Appeal liz.engel@eveappeal.org.uk

D/L:    0208 663 1040

Mob:   07812 150832

S/B:    020 7299 4430

Notes to editors

  • The Eve Appeal raises funds for the work of the Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre at UCL and raises awareness of gynaecological cancers. To read the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer or other gynaecological cancers visit www.eveappeal.org.uk
  • There are over 2,900 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year in the UK and more than half of these are under 50 years old.
  • In 2008/09 in the UK 3.6million women attended cervical screening, a rise for the first time in almost 10 years (Jade Goody effect). In 2009/10 attendance dropped to 3.3 million.
  • In England women aged 25 to 49 are invited for screening every 3 years, and screening continues every 5 years for women aged 50 to 64.
  • With support from the Department of Health, The Eve Appeal has worked to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer and has published a series of information materials called ‘What women need to know… about cervical cancer’ including a leaflet; postcard and DVD of five fabulous women talking about cervical cancer screening, vaccination and signs and symptoms. Our hopes are that the publication of these materials on cervical cancer will give women clear and concise information on the warning signs and symptoms of the disease; provide them with the advice they need to reduce their risk of contracting cervical cancer and encourage them to seek medical help sooner than they might otherwise have done.
  • The key early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer:
  • Any unusual bleeding from the vagina particularly
    • After sex
    • After the menopause when your periods have stopped
  • Persistent vaginal discharge that is blood stained or smells unpleasant

Copies of materials available from: office@eveappeal.org.uk or 020 7299 4430

Case studies - Please contact liz.engel@eveappeal.org.uk to speak to women with personal experience of cervical cancer.

[1] “What Women Know” – a survey developed by the Cervical Cancer Awareness and Symptoms Initiative, a collaborative partnership with the Department of Health, UCL Health Behaviour Research Centre and The Eve Appeal. The survey was a face-to-face, self-completion cervical cancer awareness survey conducted by BMRB Omnibus, 25 November-10 December 2009, among 1392 women aged 16+ in England.

Liz Engel, Press Office
The Eve Appeal
Tel: 07812 150832 / 020 7299 4430

The Eve Appeal was set up to fund groundbreaking research into all gynaecological cancers at the Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, UCL.

Our vision is a world where more women survive and fewer women are diagnosed with gynaecological cancers.