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Educate elderly on HPV to stop cervical cancer, say researchers

Women over 65 have a high mortality rate for cervical cancer, which could improve if they knew more about HPV, researchers said.

Half of the deaths from cervical cancer are from women aged over 65, research from Keele University showed. This is also the age at which the screening programme, known as smear testing, currently ends.

Women over this age also accounted for one-in-five (20%) of the 3,121 new cases diagnosed each year.

A lack of knowledge about both the disease and who can be affected could be contributing to women this age not attending screenings, a separate report by the charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust has found.

The sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer, but three in five women (60%) in this age group did not know this and many failed to see past sexual activity as a threat. However, the virus could lay dormant then develop into cervical cancer later in life.

This week (15-21 June) is Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW), a national initiative led by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, which aims to highlight the importance of cervical screening. See more here