What Jade’s cancer battle can teach us

Jade Goody’s public battle with cancer has brought the disease to the forefront. But what can we learn from Jade’s case? And how can her experience help other women avoid cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer: The facts

* Cervical cancer is caused by some strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
* You can get the HPV virus by having sex, but it doesn’t have to be penetrative.
* Around 80% of us will contract the HPV virus at some point in our lifetime, but for most people it will require no treatment and go away on its own.
* Around 2,800 women a year in the UK will develop cervical cancer.
* Most of those will be in their 30s or 40s, but Jade has proved that’s not always the case.
* 4.4 million women are invited for cervical screening every year in the UK and 24,000 of those will have abnormal results.
* Of those 24,000 only 8% will develop cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer: How can you protect yourself?

* Using a condom when having penetrative sex reduces your risk of catching the HPV virus, and therefore reduces your risk of getting cervical cancer.
* Smoking also increases your risk of getting cervical cancer, so quit while you can.
* Cervical smear tests are the best way to prevent against cervical cancer.
* Girls between 12 and 13 will now all be offered the cervical cancer vaccine in schools which could save hundreds of lives. However, it’s important if your daughter gets the jab, she must still have a smear tests every 3-5 years (every year if an abnormal result is found) from the age of 25 as it doesn’t prevent against all strains of the HPV virus.
* At the moment, smears are offered to women over 25 but it’s been questioned whether the age should be lowered. If you, or your daughter is under 25 but have been sexually active for a long time then, it could be worth requesting a smear at a GUM clinic or at your GP’s surgery.