Cervical cancer awareness campaign looks for screening boost
01 March 2019
This month will see the launch of Public Health England’s Cervical Cancer Awareness campaign, a nationwide initiative intended to increase the number of women in the UK being screened for the disease. 

With 9 cases in the UK still diagnosed every day, the PHE campaign follows Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which took place in January.

According to PHE, currently only 7 out of 10 of those eligible are being adequately screened for cervical cancer, a 20-year low. It is now the most common cancer among women under the age of 35.

If all those eligible for screening attended (that is, all women and people with a cervix aged between 25 and 64), the organisation estimates that 83% of cervical cancer deaths could be prevented.

Josie Bourner, trial coordinator for INTERLACE, an international cervical cancer study led by the CTC, remarked: ‘In the UK we are very fortunate to have a national cervical screening programme. This programme has greatly decreased the incidence of cervical cancer in the UK over the last two decades. However, there are still some barriers preventing people from attending a screening test. 

‘Research has shown that embarrassment and fear of pain are common reasons why women in the UK don’t make an appointment. A lack of awareness of the risk factors for cervical cancer has also been shown to have an impact on uptake.' 

Josie went on to point out higher incidences of cancer among populations without wide screening coverage: ‘I work on the INTERLACE trial, which runs in several countries around the world, some with national, free-at-the-point-of-use screening programmes and some without. The correlation between the rate at which patients are recruited in a country and the availability of a national screening programme is clear: we have seen far more cancer patients entered into the INTERLACE trial from countries without a screening programme than from those with a screening programme.’  

More information on cervical screening can be found on the NHS and PHE websites. INTERLACE remains open to patients at hospitals worldwide. More information on the study can be found here.
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