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Cervical cancer symptoms awareness among women – an area in need of more education

In 2012 Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust commissioned a survey to measure awareness around cervical cancer symptoms. We know that levels of symptoms awareness are low as a separate piece of research by the charity in 2012 showed that 70% of women who had cervical cancer and experienced symptoms were not aware that they indicated cervical cancer. Of the different symptoms, 70% of women experienced abnormal bleeding and almost 40% experienced unusual or unpleasant discharge. As well as understanding how aware of cervical cancer symptoms women are, the chairty also wanted to understand, whether and how quickly, women would take action when experiencing symptoms of cervical cancer.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are taken from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,669 women aged 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3 and 6 December 2012 and was carried out online.

Key findings include:

  • 79% of women said they would see a doctor for a cold that lasted more than 3 weeks, compared to only 50% if they bled outside of a period
  • 53% of women would delay going to the doctor if they thought something might be wrong with their body, to see if it got any better or worse
  • Over 1 in 3 women surveyed would put off going to the doctor if they felt something was wrong to see if it got any better or worse
  • 1 in 5 women have experienced bleeding in between periods; pain or discomfort during sex; or unusual or unpleasant vaginal discharge. Over 1 in 3 did nothing when last experiencing these symptoms
  • 63% of women were not aware that post menopausal bleeding is a symptom of cervical cancer
  • Over half (52%) of women do not know bleeding during or after sex is a symptom of cervical cancer

Every day in the UK eight women are diagnosed and nearly three women die from the disease. Early detection is key to improving survival rates and quality of life. Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust aims to make the public fully aware of all the symptoms of the disease as well as encourage women to feel confident enough to visit their doctor if they notice anything unusual with their body. Similarly, we are asking medical professionals to make their patients aware of the symptoms through face to face contact and by displaying our awareness materials.

See full survey results >

Read the press release on the survey >


Read more research >


We run campaigns to raise awareness of cervical cancer, cervical screening and the HPV vaccine.

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Date last updated: 
19 Jul 2019