This week has seen intense media coverage of Jade Goody’s struggle with cervical cancer. Jade, who sadly was diagnosed with the disease in August 2008, has been told this week that her cervical cancer has spread.
The publicity around Jade’s diagnosis has led many more people to ask questions and seek information about cervical cancer – we’ve seen a dramatic leap in the number of people visiting the cervical cancer pages of our patient information website, CancerHelp UK.
Before Jade was diagnosed, the total number of pages viewed daily in our cervical cancer section was around 2,000 to 3,000. On the day of the news last year this jumped to over 32,000.
Since then the daily visits have continued to be around two to three times higher than before her diagnosis was made public.
Our Information Nurses phone line has also had an increase in callers asking for information about cervical cancer.
And in response to Jade being back in the news this week, we’ve seen the number of cervical cancer pages viewed increase to around 20,000.
While our thoughts are with Jade and her young family at this difficult time, we hope Jade’s story will encourage every woman who receives an invitation to attend cervical screening to do so without delay.
Without cervical screening in this country, many more thousands of women would be diagnosed with the disease. Cervical screening means that many cases of the disease can be prevented, because changes in the cervix can be detected – and treated – before they develop into cancer.
A Cancer Research UK study in 2004 suggested that the screening programme had saved 100,000 lives since its introduction in 1988.
On top of this, the roll-out of the HPV vaccine, which has been offered to all 13 year old girls in the UK – with a catch up programme for girls up to the age of 18, has the potential to prevent even more cases of the disease. This vaccine prevents infection with the strains of human papillomavirus that cause the majority of cervical cancer cases.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
We also advise any woman, no matter what age, who has symptoms that give cause for concern – like bleeding between periods or bleeding after the menopause – to discuss them with their doctor straight away. You can find more information about cervical cancer symptoms on CancerHelp UK.
Emma is Cancer Research UK’s science press manager