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PHE launch first ever Cervical Screening Saves Lives Campaign – but why is it important? 

More than two women die every day from cervical cancer in England.1 It is estimated that if everyone invited actually attended their cervical screening appointments, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.2 However there are a number of reasons people may not want to attend their screening, from fear to possible embarrassment. 72% of female sexual assault survivors have avoided or delayed their smear test because of their experience.3 

The reality is that one in four women in the UK are choosing not to attend their cervical screening, resulting in a 20-year low for attendance.4 That’s why the ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ campaign by Public Health England, is so important. With support from NHS England, the campaign is set to launch today and is the first ever cervical screening campaign to take place nationally. The campaign has set out to help people to overcome their fear of screenings and increase s attendance. 

By attending regular smear tests, high-risk HPV infection and any abnormalities caused by the infection can be identified and treated. Potentially preventing cancer from developing further down the line. HPV normally has no signs or symptoms, so it is very difficult to tell if someone has it, which is what makes regular screenings so important.  

Until recently, the cervical screenings themselves have not changed since their introduction in the late 1980s.They are a straightforward procedure targeted towards 25 – 64-year olds, as cases are extremely rare in younger and older women (however, this does not mean that these women should not be on the lookout for symptoms). 

Today, with the introduction of national primary HPV screening, HPV vaccination and new adjunct technologies to colposcopy (such as ZedScan) it is clear that change is on the horizon for cervical cancer. With these introductions, 99.8% of cervical cancers are now preventable.1  

Be that as it may, for prevention to take place, attendance needs to grow. The NHS Cervical Screening saves as many as 5,000 lives a year in the UK, with the Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ campaign, these numbers could increase.5 

The campaign’s main objective is to urge people not to ignore their potentially lifesaving cervical screening invite, or to book appointment if their last screening was missed.  

Here at Onyx Health, we’re hoping that the change in screening uptake and the reduction in disease becomes a reality so in the future we’ll see cervical cancer become a thing of the past.6 

How can you support the campaign?

You can support the campaign through your own social media channels by liking or sharing the social content posted from the NHS Facebook account, @NHSuk Twitter account, Public Health England Facebook account and @PHE_uk Twitter account. 

Using the #CervicalScreeningSavesLives will also help to boost awareness of the campaign. 

References 

1. Cancer Research UK(2014-2016).  Cervical cancer statistics. Found online at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/cervical-cancer#heading-Two [Accessed 04/03/2019]

2. Health matters: making cervical screening more accessible,Aug 2017, available online via: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-making-cervical-screening-more-accessible/health-matters-making-cervical-screening-more-accessible–2 [Accessed 04/03/2019]
3. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (2018) Three quarters of sexual violence survivors feel unable to go for potentially life-saving test. Found online at: https://www.jostrust.org.uk/node/1075195 [Accessed 04/03/2019]

4. NHS Digital,Nov 2018 Cervical screening programme 2017-18 [NS]  available online via: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/cervical-screening-programme/england—2017-18 [Accessed 04/03/2019]

5. PHE, Blog,PHE to launch national cervical screening campaign in March 2019  Found online at:  https://phescreening.blog.gov.uk/2018/11/30/phe-to-launch-national-cervical-screening-campaign-in-march-2019/  [Accessed 04/03/2019] 

6.Jo’sCervical Cancer Trust Trust Mission statement Found online: https://www.jostrust.org.uk/about-us/our-research-and-policy-work/our-policy-work [Accessed 04/03/2019] 

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© Onyx Health 2019

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