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Further understanding of the perception of cervical screening among women over 50

Annual statistics show incidences of cervical cancer in the UK have risen from 8 diagnoses every day to 9 each day meaning 3,207 women faced a diagnosis in 2014. Adding to concern, new modelling work commissioned by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust in 2016 uncovered a ticking time bomb: incidences of cervical cancer are set to rocket if current uptake of cervical screening remains the same. By 2040 incidences will have increased by 16% among 60-64 year olds and 85% among 70-74 year olds. A 100% increase in mortality among 60-64 year olds is also a very real threat rising to a massive 117% if screening uptake continues to decline and falls by another 5%.

In April 2016 we undertook a survey of women aged 50 and over as part of our Eradicate Cervical Cancer campaign. We wanted to further explore their knowledge of cervical cancer and barriers to cervical screening. The results were launched during Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2016.

We partnered with Gransnet, the busiest social networking site for the over 50s, to survey their users. Total sample size was 1,020 women aged 50 and over. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18 April - 11 May 2016.  The survey was carried out online.

Key findings include:

  • One in three (33%) reported delaying cervical screening
  • 32%  do not think cervical screening is part of the healthy upkeep of a woman’s body
  • On average women over 50 delay their cervical screening for 26 months and 1 in 10 (10%) delay for over 5 years
  • 46% do not agree or do not know that human papillomavirus (HPV) is common
  • 21% do not agree or do not know that regular cervical screening reduces the risk of cervical cancer

The survey revealed relevance, accessibility and flexibility to be significant barriers to cervical screening among this group. For women who are post-menopause, screening can be also particularly uncomfortable which is why we now call for further research into HPV self-sampling tests as it could help overcome some of the barriers for this age group. 

See full survey results >

Read the press release on the survey >


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Date last updated: 
19 Jul 2019