Healthcare: On the Agenda - Goody triggers smear test leap

- In a nutshell

Reality TV star Jade Goody's admission earlier this year that she has cervical cancer has prompted thousands of women to get tested. Now it emerges that smear tests have increased by about 20 per cent since Goody was diagnosed in August.

- Media coverage

The story was broken by The Sun, which reported that tests at Sheffield Primary Care Trust have risen from 250 tests a week to 750 a day after the news of Goody's fate. It also reported that a Southwark PCT in south London saw a 25 per cent rise.

- How did the story come about?

Goody's diagnosis in August produced acres of column inches. The same thing happened earlier this year when author Terry Pratchett revealed he had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.

- Why did this happen?

It is pretty rare that anyone well-known admits to the condition so Pratchett's admission may have acted as a lightning conductor for other stakeholders' comms efforts. Pratchett has also regularly appeared on TV as a spokesperson to highlight the illness. The Alzheimer's Society, which had submitted recommendations to the Department of Health on treatment, praised his decision.

- Any other examples?

When singer Kylie Minogue spoke out about her breast cancer diagnosis, screenings at some hospitals increased by up to 25 per cent.

5,000 - lives in the UK are saved each year through cervical cancer screenings

75% - of cancers can be stopped through early detection and treatment.

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