Healthcare: On the Agenda - Test could save cancer patients

In a nutshell

A new test costing only £15 a time could save the lives of thousands of cervical cancer patients, according to a new study. The Athena HPV Diagnostics trial sampled 47,000 women using the cobas 4800 Human Papillomavirus test, developed by pharma giant Roche. The results showed a higher detection of pre-cancerous cells in women whose cervical smears tested normal.

Why is it important?

The current system of cervical cancer screening, introduced by the NHS in the late 1980s, is aimed at women aged 20 to 65 years. Women are invited to attend screening every three or five years depending on age and the system operates on a recall basis if the smear appears abnormal. The trial showed that more than one in ten women aged 30 years and older who tested positive for HPV genotypes 16 and/or 18 by the cobas 4800 HPV test had cervical pre-cancer, although their Pap1 smear was normal.

PR strategy

PR agency Indigo Cow worked with Roche Diagnostics to deliver the campaign. The strategy was to secure a national exclusive with the Daily Mail before issuing a press release on PR Newswire - embargoed for the day after the Mail exclusive.


The story was covered extensively in the UK media, with the Daily Mail running the story on its front page. Six newspapers followed, including The Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and The Sun. Channel Five News, BBC 5 Live and Sky News also featured the story.

1,000 deaths caused by cervial cancer each year in the UK

£15 the cost of the test that could save many lives

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