New study reveals extent of Jade Goody effect on cervical screening

Published 1st June, 2012

Three years ago, Jade Goody died of cervical cancer. A new study, published today in the Journal of Medical Screening, discusses the effect of her death on cervical screening attendance. It showed that more than 400,000 extra women were screened in England between mid-2008 and mid-2009 - the period during which Jade Goody was diagnosed and died of cervical cancer.

More women of all ages were screened, though the increase was greater for women aged under 50. In the 25-29 age group, an estimated 31,000 extra women were screened in the five months between autumn 2008 and spring 2009. It seems that the women who were closest to Jade Goody in age or circumstances, that is young women with young families, were those most affected by her experience.

Although there was concern that the increase in attendance might have been from the 'worried well' coming back for an early repeat screen, the research found that the opposite was true. A higher proportion was from women who were late for their test, rather than those who were coming back early. In the 25-49 age group, for example, 82,000 (28 per cent) women had not been tested for five years or longer, while only 7,500 (8 per cent) were coming back early having already been screened in the past three years.

Professor Julietta Patnick, Director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, commented;

"Jade's tragic diagnosis and death played a huge role in raising awareness of cervical cancer and prompted a welcome increase in screening attendance in 2008/2009. Many of those women will now be due their next routine appointment and we would like to see them return.

"All women between the ages of 25 and 64 are eligible for free cervical screening every three to five years. Regular screening means that changes in the cervix which may develop into cancer can be identified and treated. Screening saves lives, and we would encourage all eligible women to consider attending a screening appointment when invited.

"It is important to remember, however, that cervical screening is aimed at women without symptoms. Women of any age with symptoms (for example, bleeding between periods or after intercourse) should contact their GP or genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic who will refer them to see an expert in hospital."

The NHS Cancer Screening Programmes are not responsible for the content of external internet sites