Three years after the death of reality TV star Jade Goody, a new study has revealed that her battle with cervical cancer prompted 400,000 British women to book a cervical screening appointment.

The figures, released by the Journal of Medical Screening, confirmed the influence of the ‘Jade Goody Effect’ and discovered that between Jade’s diagnosis and death (2008 to 2009), a huge spike in smear tests and cervical screenings was recorded.

For women aged between 25 and 29, around 31,000 extra screening appointments were made during the last five months of Jade’s public battle with cervical cancer.

jade goody cervical cancer

Experts believe this age group were most likely to have been affected by Jade's death as the reality star was just 27 when she died.

Under-30s are the age group most hesitant to book a cervical screening test, say experts. Seeing someone so young be stuck down, may have made them aware that cervical cancer doesn't just affect older women.

However, although it was assumed that the increase in screenings was down to women booking early appointments because they were concerned about their health, the research discovered the opposite was true.

A higher proportion of bookings were among women who were late for their test rather than those who were booking them early.

The majority of extra attendances occurred in women aged 25 to 49 who admitted that their screening was overdue – with 82,000 (28%) revealing they were at least five years behind schedule. Only 8% of bookings were early appointments.

Cervical Smear Tests Significantly Raise Chances Of Beating Cancer

"Jade's tragic diagnosis and death played a huge role in raising awareness of cervical cancer and prompted a welcome increase in screening attendances in 2008 and 2009. Many of those women will now be due their next routine appointment and we would like to see them return,” professor Julietta Patnick from the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes and author of the paper, said in a statement.

"All women between the ages of 25 and 64 are eligible for free cervical screening every three to five years. Regular screening means that changes in the cervix, which may develop into cancer can be identified and treated. Screening saves lives, and we would encourage all eligible women to consider attending a screening appointment when invited."

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Separate figures released by Cancer Research UK revealed that during Jade’s battle with cancer, over 32,000 people logged into their cervical cancer section of the website compared to 2,000 prior to her diagnosis.

However, despite encouraging thousands of women to book a cervical screening test, it looks like the ‘Jade Goody Effect’ may be wearing off.

According to research by the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, one in five British women are still risking their health by not having a smear test.

Another study discovered that a shocking third of women in the UK have never had a smear test.

Responding to the downward trend of booking a cervical screening test, Robert Music, director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, urges women not to ignore the routine screening letter from their GP.

“Thousands of women are potentially at risk. Screening picks up abnormalities, which can develop into cervical cancer. We of course want all women to take up their screening invitation when it arrives.

“But we need to urge and ensure that those women who, as a result of Jade Goody’s high-profile struggle with the disease went for screening three years ago and are likely to shortly receive their next three-yearly routine appointment to not to ignore that letter,” Music told HuffPost Lifestyle.

If you’re worried about booking a smear test, take a look at the following advice from Dr Katrina Herren from Bupa, on what to expect when you have a cervical screening. test

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  • What Is A Cervical Screening?

    A cervical screening is a simple procedure carried out by a doctor or qualified nurse which can detect pre-cancerous cells inside the cervix which can develop into cervical cancer. Early detection of changes to cervical cells is vitally important in minimising the impact of the disease, which is why all women over the age of 25 are encouraged to have cervical screens.

  • What Happens During A Cervical Screening?

    A cervical screening test usually takes just a few minutes. You will be asked to undress from the waist down - you will be given a towel to put across your lap - and lie on your back on a couch, with your legs drawn up and knees apart. If this position is difficult for you to get into, your nurse or GP can take the test with you lying on your side. You may find the test uncomfortable but it isn't usually painful. Your nurse or GP will use an instrument called a speculum to gently open the vagina and take a cell sample from your cervix using a small brush. The sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing and you will receive the results in a letter a few weeks late

  • How Often Do You Have To Have A Screening?

    Women aged 25 and over are advised to have cervical screenings at least once every three years to detect changes to the cells in the cervix, according to the NHS. As women get older this may change to once every five years.

  • Will The Results Be Positive?

    Around nine out of 10 cervical screening results are classed as 'normal'. About five in 100 tests show borderline or mild cell changes; these usually go back to normal by themselves and this will be monitored with further screening every six months. One in 100 tests shows moderate cell changes and one in 200 shows severe changes, which means further investigations will be required and treatment needed to remove the cells. Sometimes the result may be 'inadequate' or 'unsatisfactory' because the sample was not good enough or the cells could not be seen clearly, for example, because of an infection. This happens in about one in every four tests. If this happens, another test will be scheduled.

  • What Happens If My Test Results Are 'Abnormal'?

    In the case of an abnormal screening result, or symptoms of cervical cancer, your doctor will refer you to a gynaecologist for further tests to more closely examine the surface of the cervix, to see if the abnormal cells have spread and check your health. The type of treatment you might need will depend on the results of the examinations and your general health. Your GP or nurse may ask you to have a colposcopy if your cervical screening results were abnormal. In a colposcopy, your doctor will use an instrument called a colposcope to examine your cervix. A colposcope acts like a magnifying glass, which helps your doctor or nurse to see the cells of your cervix in detail and close up. If your doctor or nurse sees anything that looks abnormal, a biopsy will be taken and the cells sent to a laboratory to be checked. You may be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area before the biopsy is taken. If no abnormal cells are found, you won't need any treatment. If your doctor or nurse finds abnormal cells, you may be given treatment there and then to remove the cells before they can develop into cervical cancer. Alternatively, your doctor or nurse may ask you to come back for treatment at another appointment. The most common type of treatment is LLETZ. Your doctor or nurse will inject a local anaesthetic into your cervix. This will numb the area so you won't feel any pain. Some women may notice a stinging sensation when the anaesthetic is injected - this settles down very quickly. A loop of fine wire with an electric current flowing through it is used to remove the abnormal cells from your cervix. This takes around five to 10 minutes. Another type of investigation that may be undertaken when abnormal cells have been detected is a cone biopsy, where a small, cone-shaped section of abnormal tissue is taken from your cervix and is examined under a microscope. This is usually done under local anaesthetic. A cone biopsy may also be used as a treatment to remove pre-cancerous cells.