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Cervical cancer-deprivation link found

Friday February 20th, 2009

Cervical cancer rates vary between different areas of Southeast England, and are often higher in deprived areas, research shows.

The latest findings come a few days after British reality TV star Jade Goody was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer - and stated her determination to continue to live out her life in front of the cameras.

Dr Laura Currin and her team at King's College London, UK, looked at 2,231 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed between 2001 and 2005. The patients came from London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Analysis showed that some areas had rates three times higher than other, nearby areas. Significantly higher rates were seen in areas with high deprivation, high numbers of smokers, and greater teenage pregnancy levels.

Public health interventions must target deprived areas in order to minimise health inequalities, the researchers state in the journal BMC Public Health.

They conclude: "Significant public health gains can be made by reducing exposure to known risk factors at a population level."

Dr Currin believes: "Understanding the factors contributing to an increased incidence will allow future intervention programmes to more effectively target those who carry an increased risk for the disease.

"The areas of high and low incidence are geographically close, and rates varied dramatically within a region," she added. This knowledge "may help health professionals improve prevention efforts".

Professor Julietta Patnick of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes said in a statement: "We are currently working hard to reach all women across the country, including those from more deprived areas, with the message that cervical screening saves lives.

"We want to help women who are eligible for screening [25 to 64 years of age] to make informed choices and provide them with the reassurance they need to make the right decisions for themselves."

Currin, L. G. et al. Inequalities in the incidence of cervical cancer in South East England 2001-2005: an investigation of population risk factors. BMC Public Health, 2009 (in press).

Tags: Cancer | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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