Public Health England (PHE) has launched the major new national campaign, ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’, to increase the number of women attending their cervical screening appointments across England.
Despite the impact that the NHS Cervical Screening Programme has made on cervical cancer mortality since it was established in 1988 – saving an estimated 5000 lives a year – coverage is at a 20-year low.
According to figures published by NHS Digital, as of 31 March 2018, the percentage of eligible women (aged 25 to 64) screened adequately was 71.4%. The national target for cervical screening coverage is 80%, and coverage is at its lowest amongst those aged 25 – 35.
The campaign will encourage women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter, and if they missed their last screening, to book an appointment at their GP practice.
Dr Dawn Harper has produced a video specifically for Health Care Professionals highlighting the cervical screening campaign. You can also catch up with the campaign launch webinar here.
Around 2600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease, equivalent to two deaths every day. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.
The campaign will target:
- All eligible women aged 25 – 64 (with upweight to C2DE)
- Primary: women aged 25 – 35 (with upweight to C2DE) where coverage is lowest and incidence rates highest.
There are also some small sub-groups who are disproportionately less likely to participate – including women from ethnic minorities, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and lesbian and bisexual women. The campaign is being developed in order to include these groups.
The campaign will:
- Highlight the risks of cervical cancer
- Highlight the preventative benefits of the often misunderstood screening test
- Encourage women of all ages to respond to their screening invitation
- Encourage women to consider booking an appointment if they have missed previous invitations
- Aim to tackle barriers to screening highlighted by research, issues such as fear and embarrassment.
New research from PHE shows that nearly all women eligible for screening (90%) would be likely to take a test that could help prevent cancer – and of those who have attended screening, 9 in 10 (94%) would encourage others who are worried to attend their cervical screening. It also shows that once they have been screened, the vast majority of women feel positive about the experience, with 8 in 10 (87%) stating they are “glad they went” and that they were “put at ease by the nurse or doctor doing the test” (84%).
Dr Dawn Harper said: “Screening can stop cancer before it starts and saves thousands of lives every year. Some women are nervous or embarrassed about the test and put off having it done. While it’s not the most enjoyable experience most women say it wasn’t as bad as expected and were glad they did it.”
PHE will produce materials supporting the campaign, including toolkits and other resources. You will also be able to find ideas and information to support and prepare you and your staff for the campaign.
You can sign up to PHE’s cancer campaign newsletters here to stay informed of further updates on the campaign, what to expect and for the opportunity to pre-order resources.
Sign up for the PCWHF’s monthly ebulletin, which includes tips on how to increase cervical cancer screening uptake from other healthcare professionals working in primary care.