'Jade Goody effect' helps increase cervical cancer screening rates

The number of eligible women aged 25 to 64 who attended for cervical screening has risen by almost 12% in the last year, latest NHS Information Centre figures reveal.

Close-up of cervical sample being smeared on slide (Photograph: SATURN STILLS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)

A total of 3.6 million women were screened in 2008/9 up from 3.2 million women in 2007/8.

This is the first time since 2002 that the percentage of eligible women who have been screened at least once in the previous five years has increased.

The increase in coverage is more prominent amongst the younger age groups. The proportion of 25 to 49 year olds screened every 3 to 3.5 years increased to 72.5% compared with 69.3% last year.

Within the older age range, 50 to 64, the proportion of women being screened has fallen slightly to 80% compared with 80.3% last year.

Julietta Patnick director of NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: ‘We are particularly pleased to see that there has been a noticeable increase in acceptance rates in the younger age groups.

‘Over the past decade the number of women aged between 25 - 35 years old who accept their screening invitations has been declining - we have been working hard to address this and it's pleasing to see the increase in uptake this year.

‘Much of this increase can be attributed to the media coverage of Jade Goody which did a great deal to raise awareness, particularly among younger women.'

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