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Study: Poor more at risk of cervical cancer

  • Story Highlights
  • A new study found that London has the highest rate of cervical cancer
  • The link was made between the disease and deprivation and teen pregnancy
  • Lower uptake of cervical screening in deprived areas one of the causes
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By Anouk Lorie
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A new British study has discovered that the highest rates of cervical cancer are found in some of London's most deprived areas.

Jade Goody, with her soon-to-be husband Jack Tweed, before her cancer diagnosis.

Cancer of the uterine cervix, a part of the uterus, can often be prevented through screenings and vaccination

Significantly high rates of smoking and teenage pregnancies were also discovered in eight areas of the capital city.

Researchers believed this was mainly fueled by a lower uptake of cervical screening in deprived areas.

Elizabeth Davies, medical director of the Thames Cancer Registry, King's College London, which carried out the latest research, told CNN: "What we see is that there is an excess of the disease in certain areas and in some groups of the female population."

"We wanted to identify some of the most critical areas."

Davies highlighted some other risk factors such as early sexual intercourse, number of partners and infection with human papilloma virus (HPV).

The latest research comes after one published in December 2008 by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) showed that deprivation doubles cervical cancer risk.

In its study, Thames Cancer Registry highlighted that cervical cancer-- a cancer of the neck of the womb-- "is the second most common malignancy among females worldwide."

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"Although the five-year survival rates for this cancer are relatively high, on average women are diagnosed and die at a younger age than in most other types of cancer," the report said.

A vaccine that protects against the strains of HPV that lead to most cervical cancers is available in most countries, but Davies says screenings are still important.

"In the UK, the vaccine is only given to young girls and does not protect against all HPV strains -- women therefore still need to be screened."

"Cervical cancer is largely a preventable disease" Davies told CNN. "We hope this study will lead to more screenings and higher awareness."

One story that has apparently led to a significant increase in cancer screenings is that of Jade Goody, a former reality TV star who has been diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer.

The plight of Goody, a mother-of-two has been widely reported across the British media and is "most probably the cause for an increase in screenings" said Robert Music, director of the British cervical cancer organization, Jo's Trust.

"University Hospital Lewisham in south east London for example, has reported a 20 per cent increase in screenings" Music explained.

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