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Public cervical cancer battle boosts diagnosis numbers

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Publicity surrounding the death of reality TV star Jade Goody boosted the number of cases of cervical cancer diagnosed by health professionals, according to a new report.

Statistics show the amount of women diagnosed with the disease rose by 14% between 2008 and 2009. And the authors of the report believe this is probably due to the large number of people who were screened for cervical cancer after Jade Goody’s public fight against the illness.

The report by the Trent Cancer Registry says the figures show an increase in diagnoses both when it was revealed Jade Goody was suffering from the disease in August 2008 and when she passed away in March 2009.

Researchers say the rise mostly involved women in their late twenties and thirties, who may not have been tested for the cancer in the past.

The study, carried out for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme (NHSCSP) and the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), found richer people were less likely to suffer from terminal cancer of the cervix.

Out of 100,000 women living in the poorest parts of England, 3.2 will die from the disease but in wealthier neighbourhoods this number is just 1.7.

But over the last two decades the total amount of cervical cancer cases has fallen by 33% and more people survive now, with deaths being reduced by more than 50%.

Dr Mick Peake, national clinical lead for the NCIN, said the data varied according to region.

He said the 30 primary care trusts in the areas with most deprivation had almost double the number of deaths due to cervical cancer than the trusts in the 30 wealthiest areas.

Professor Julietta Patnick, director of the NHSCSP, said the falling mortality rates highlighted by the report showed the positive impact screening was having as well as the impact of better medical treatments.

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