The percentage of women taking part in cervical screening in Yorkshire has dropped by 5.5% in the past eight years, according to statistics provided by Yorkshire Cancer Research.
During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (January 22-28), the regional charity has warned that despite more than one million women across the region being up to date with their cervical screening, approximately 350,000 women across the region are putting their lives at risk by failing to attend appointments when invited 1.
Women aged 25-49 years old are currently invited to take part in cervical screening every three years, while women aged 50-64 are invited every five years. Cervical screening is used to find early changes to cells in the cervix. If abnormal cells are found, they can be checked or removed before cancer is able to develop.
During 2008/2009, nearly 80% of women in Yorkshire were taking part in screening, but the latest figures for 2016/2017 show that the rate has dropped to just 74.5% 2.
Participation in cervical screening increased dramatically following the diagnosis of television personality Jade Goody in 2008. Goody spoke openly about her experience and her story played a significant role in raising awareness of the disease. She died in March 2009 at the age of 27.
Leah Simmons, Cancer Information Officer at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “A spike in participation rates seen up to 2009-2010 is likely to be due to the increased public awareness as a result of Jade Goody’s diagnosis and her campaign to encourage women to attend screenings. It is well documented that the number of women attending screening increased following her death. However, this effect appears to have worn off in recent years, resulting in worryingly low participation rates.
Cervical screening rate drops by 5.5% in Yorkshire
“It is incredibly important that women attend appointments when invited. Screening is a vital tool in the prevention of cancer. Any abnormalities found through screening can quickly and easily be treated which stops them turning into a cancer in the future. It also means that in the very rare event that further tests find cancer, it is more likely to be diagnosed at an early stage when it can usually be treated more successfully.”
Yorkshire Cancer Research recently announced an investment of £174,000 in a clinical trial to test whether participation in screening can be increased by sending women additional information and a help sheet.
Participation is lowest in women aged 25-49, and in areas of deprivation. Just 68% of eligible women aged 25-49 take part in screening in Bradford, compared to 78% in the East Riding of Yorkshire 1. The trial will be carried out by researchers at the University of Leeds’ School of Psychology and led by Professor Daryl O’Connor.
Women should take part in cervical screening even if they have received the HPV vaccine. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by a family of viruses called ‘human papilloma virus’ (HPV). The HPV vaccination programme, offered to girls aged 12 to 13, is designed to protect women from two types of HPV which cause more than seven in 10 cervical cancers in the UK. The vaccine reduces most, but not all, of the risks from HPV which is why it is still important to take part in screening.
For more information about cervical screening, please visit www.ycr.org.uk/cervicalscreening. If you are worried about screening, please talk to your doctor or practice nurse.
While cervical screening participation is slightly higher in Yorkshire than the England average (74.5% compared to 72.0%) 1, cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates in Yorkshire are higher than the national average. Between 2013 and 2015, 832 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in Yorkshire. The incidence rate in the county was 10.8 cases per 100,000 women, compared to 9.6 per 100,000 in England. During the same time period, 240 women died from cervical cancer. The mortality rate in Yorkshire was 3.3 deaths per 100,000 women, compared to 2.6 deaths in England 2.
Notes to Editors
- Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
- We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
- Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
- Current statistics show that 575 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
- We aim to:
- Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
- Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
- Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
- Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
- Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.
- For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter