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Goody effect 'boosts screening'

22 October 09 09:52 GMT

Reality TV star Jade Goody's fight against cervical cancer led to a rise in women undergoing screening in England, experts believe.

The 27-year-old died earlier this year after being diagnosed in 2008.

The NHS Information Centre data showed the number of women aged 25 to 64 being screened rose by 12% last year.

Charities and the government said the increase - the first since 2002 - was a "lasting legacy" of the TV star's fight against cancer.

Action

The NHS figures showed screening went up from 3.2m to 3.6m in 2008-9.

The increase was more prominent among younger age groups.

Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "We are pleased that more young women are having the smear test and hope this rise continues, as screening undoubtedly saves lives.

"When spotted early, abnormalities can usually be treated successfully. That is why it is also essential that women attend follow-up appointments for further tests.

"Jade Goody really did leave a lasting legacy. She was open and honest about having cancer and as a result, so many more young women are now looking at their own health and are motivated into taking action."

Awareness

And health secretary Andy Burnham added: "These figures show the remarkable effect that Jade Goody's tragic case has had in reversing a downward trend in the number of young women attending cervical screening.

"Jade's bravery and openness in her fight against cervical cancer has brought home to young women across the country the importance of regularly going for these checks."

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of health information, said: "Media coverage of Jade Goody's tragic plight brought important cervical cancer awareness messages into living rooms across the UK and the huge increase in people seeing information about cervical screening following Jade's diagnosis became known as the 'Jade effect'.

"It is gratifying to see that the result of her story that was played out so painfully in public has resulted in so many more women attending cervical screening."

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