As a storyline in a popular soap highlights the issue of cervical cancer, public health teams in Sussex are urging women to have regular screening tests.
EastEnders character Tanya Branning, played by Jo Joyner, has been diagnosed with cervical cancer. And TV bosses have worked closely with experts and charities, such as Macmillan Cancer Support and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, to ensure the storyline is true to life.
“Highlighting the importance of women having regular screening tests in a popular TV soap is welcomed,” says Viv Mussell, the cervical screening lead for West Sussex. Regular cervical screening saves lives. It’s for all women over the age of 25 – women aged 25-49 should be screened every three years, and women aged from 50-64 should be screened every five years.”
Every year in the UK, more than 2,800 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1,000 women will die from the disease. After breast cancer, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women aged 35 and under.
Detection of early changes in the cervix by regular screening is, to date, the most effective way of preventing a cancer from developing. Despite this, 20 per cent of women locally did not take up their invitation for cervical screening last year.
Viv added: “Any woman who’s not had their screening test in the past three to five years should make an appointment with their GP practice.”