Jade Goody coverage led to 500,000 more cancer checks

Around 500,000 more women in England attended cervical screening appointments during media coverage of Jade Goody's cervical cancer diagnosis, figures show.

Jade Goody (Photo: Rex)
Jade Goody (Photo: Rex)

Between mid-2008 and mid-2009, there were 478,000 additional attendances among women aged 25-64, compared with similar periods in other years, data from the Cervical Cancer Screening Programme have revealed. In March 2009, attendance was around 70% higher than expected.

During this period, around 400 extra cases of cervical cancer were detected, the figures shows.

A higher proportion of the additional attendances among women aged 25–49 on routine recall occurred in women whose attendance was overdue and relatively little represented over-screening, researchers examining the data found.

Writing online in the Journal of Medical Screening, the researchers said Jade Goody’s ‘highly publicised’ diagnosis and death were ‘marked by a substantial increase in attendances in the cervical screening programme’.

‘The pattern of increased attendance mirrored the pattern of media coverage,’ they said. ‘Increases were seen in both initial and follow-up screening attendances and in colposcopy attendances,’ they said.

But, they added: ‘It is likely that the increased screening resulted in a number of lives saved but effort should be made to ensure that the extra women reached return for regular screening in the future as the effect of celebrity based publicity appears short lived.’

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