Public Health England (PHE) has launched a major new national “Cervical Screening Saves Lives” campaign to increase the number of women attending their cervical screening across England.

Around 2600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year and around 690 women die from the disease.

It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.

The campaign encourages women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter and, if they missed their last screening, to book an appointment at their GP practice.

The campaign gives practical advice about how to make the test more comfortable and gives reassurance to women who may be fearful of finding out they have cancer. PHE said that, with regular screening, cervical cancer can be prevented before it starts because potentially harmful cells are identified before they become cancerous. This ensures that patients receive the right treatment as soon as possible.

PHE Director of Screening Programmes Professor Anne Mackie said: “This is a simple test which takes just five minutes and could save your life. It’s just not worth ignoring.”

Research conducted for PHE found that 90% of all women eligible for screening would be likely to take a test that could help prevent cancer. Of those who had attended screening, 94% said they would encourage others who are worried to attend their cervical screening. However, despite these survey results, screening is at a 20-year low, with one in four eligible women in the UK not attending their test.

Once women had been screened, most felt positive about the experience, with 87% saying they were “glad they went” and 84% that they were “put at ease by the nurse or doctor doing the test”.

Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “It is a tragedy that women are needlessly dying of cancer when a simple test can identify any risks early on. We hope this new campaign — the first of its kind in this country — will save lives and I am delighted to see it launch today.”

The campaign is available at

Last reviewed 13 March 2019