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Leading charity says we can end cervical cancer in the UK, offering new hope

Mon, 23/01/2023 - 10:45

This Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (23rd-29th January), Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is calling for UK Governments to commit to eliminating cervical cancer in the UK. The charity is launching a campaign to End Cervical Cancer in the UK.

Cervical cancer currently kills two women in the UK every day and is the fourth most common cancer in women globally. In 2020, The World Health Organization launched a global call for action to eliminate cervical cancer. Countries including Australia, Canada, and Rwanda have published strategies and targets to eliminate cervical cancer, putting them on track to reach this ambition, yet the UK has not.  

The charity is calling for action, with clear targets and timelines, alongside speed in innovations such as HPV self-sampling, which could be a step-change in efforts to end cervical cancer.

In its latest report, the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity found that only 17% of health professionals working across cervical cancer prevention think enough is currently being done to eliminate cervical cancer in the UK. Only 20% think enough is being done to ensure high levels of HPV vaccine uptake, and just 16% believe that enough is being done to support cervical screening uptake.

HPV vaccination and cervical screening can prevent, and one day will help eliminate cervical cancer. However cervical screening coverage has been largely on a downward trend with the latest figures showing that in England just 69.6% are up to date with their screening falling to 58.8% of 25-29 year olds. In London coverage drops to 62.3%.

In Wales, coverage of two doses of HPV vaccine in girls in the 2021/22 School Year 10 was just 55.1%. 

When asked about the biggest challenges to elimination, workforce pressures and inequalities in uptake of HPV vaccination and cervical screening came out on top. HPV self-sampling, which allows women to test for HPV in their own home, was considered the top opportunity. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is calling for collaboration, innovation, and investment for these programmes, which have the potential to reduce some of the pressure on the NHS on a longer-term basis.

Samantha Dixon, Chief Executive at Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “A world without cervical cancer doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. The UK has the tools to make it a reality which is incredibly exciting. We need Government action to get there as soon as possible, but everyone can play their part. Going for cervical screening when invited, and making sure your child is vaccinated against HPV, will help make cervical cancer a thing of the past.

“We must also continue to invest in research, improve access to treatments, and banish the stigma and blame that too often comes with a cervical cancer diagnosis. Being forward looking should not mean those living with and beyond cancer get left behind.”

Aeron was diagnosed with stage 3c cervical cancer at 42: “Cancer doesn’t end after the treatment and I’m now going through early menopause which started pretty immediately. I’m also dealing with the loss of my fertility. We need to be doing more so that parents know what the vaccination does and ensure their children get it. The idea that we could one day almost make this cancer disappear is incredible, why aren’t we running after that opportunity and shouting about it?”

Dr Ellie Cannon, NHS GP and broadcaster said: “Ending cervical cancer should be a priority and something we can all get behind. Progress to date has been too slow - GPs like myself are still seeing too many people miss their screening when called, which means they are in danger of being diagnosed late. This needs to change.

“We have an opportunity now to alleviate some of the NHS pressure in this area on a longer-term basis. With the right measures and a joint focus on innovation and protecting the workforce, we can take huge strides forward in this area.”

Jo Wilson, Sky Sports Presenter was diagnosed with stage 3b cervical cancer in 2022: “I was completely shocked to hear those words “it’s cervical cancer” -  it’s just something you never expect to be told.  Treatment has been incredibly hard and I’m so passionate about stopping as many women as possible from going through the same thing.  We need to do far more to support women to attend cervical screening and really address the reasons why so many put it off. Work also needs to be done to make the test easier and ensure everyone understands why it’s so important.”

Ends

For interviews, further comment or case studies, contact: [email protected] or call 07772 290 064 or 07800 825 051.

Notes to editors

  • Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs from 23-29 January 2023 and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is launching its biggest ever campaign: Our End Cervical Cancer campaign. Together #WeCan work towards a day where cervical cancer is a thing of the past. Join in to raise awareness of HPV vaccination and cervical screening, call for Government action, and take up your own invites. www.jostrust.org.uk/ccpw
  • Jo’s collaborated with Hogarth Worldwide, part of WPP on a pro bono basis to develop the We Can campaign to End Cervical Cancer https://youtu.be/MzPympAGFfU
  • Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity, providing information and support to anyone affected, and campaigning for excellence in cervical cancer treatment, care, and prevention. Its national Helpline is free, confidential, and available on 0808 802 8000. www.jostrust.org.uk   
  • Research consisted of a survey of 848 individuals working within cervical cancer and treatment. This includes practice nurses, clinical nurse specialists, biomedical scientists, radiographers, oncologists, and researchers.