A documentary on the life and death of reality TV star Jade Goody has put cervical screening back under the spotlight, with hopes that more women will book screening appointments and potentially save lives.
Following a three-part C4 documentary about the Big Brother contestant, charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is hoping to see a spike in cervical screenings similar to the increase in 2009, when Jade passed away aged just 27. It is estimated that her illness led to a 12% rise in women getting NHS smear tests at the time, but this was short-lived and rates have since fallen.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust head of communications Kate Sanger said: “Jade Goody’s very public diagnosis and tragic death from cervical cancer resonated with thousands of people. She undoubtedly saved lives by raising awareness of the disease and, when she sadly passed away, 400,000 more women booked cervical screening appointments.
“However, the ‘Jade Goody effect’ was short-lived and cervical screening attendance is now lower than ever. As a new story for a younger generation and for others, it will be a reminder about the impact cervical cancer can have. It has been fantastic to see that the documentary is generating conversations about cervical screening, especially on social media.
“Cervical screening saves lives and, at a time when attendance is falling, it is great to see people sharing support, tips and talking about the importance of the test. However, we are asking those watching the programme to be sensitive to the fact that, while for many it is a straightforward test, for others cervical screening can be difficult.
“No one is silly or stupid for having questions, concerns or fears about cervical screening. There shouldn’t be any blaming or shaming involved. So let’s be kind and mindful with our words and create a space online where people can do that.”
Help and advice about all aspects of cervical cancer and prevention is available at www.jostrust.org.uk, while you can also call the charity’s free helpline on 0808 802 8000.