'Cervical Smear Test Journey' Tracked Through Innovative Blog to Help UK Women Overcome Fear of Cervical Screens

By Roche, PRNE
Sunday, June 5, 2011

LONDON, June 6, 2011 -

- Launch of 'my diary from down under' by Nikki Bayley

In the UK, 20 per cent of women still do not attend smear tests, putting
themselves at risk of leaving pre-cancerous cervical cells undetected[i]. A
new blog, entitled, 'my diary from down under', aims to help dispel many of
the myths surrounding having a smear with the aim of putting women at ease
and encouraging more women to attend their cervical screens when invited.

Nikki Bayley, healthcare writer and journalist, will be tracking and
blogging her real life "journey" of having a smear from the moment she picks
up the phone and makes an appointment, until the results land on her
doorstep. As she is passionate about encouraging women to take responsibility
for their own health, Nikki is launching the blog to raise awareness of
cervical cancer and the importance of screening.

'I completely understand why many women don't go for a smear. It may not
seem to be a priority, or women may be worried about the results and not
exactly relish the thought of the procedure itself. I put off making my smear
appointment when I was recently invited, which I am not proud of, so now I
have decided to share my experience with others in the hope of highlighting
the benefits and dispelling some of the myths, whilst helping women to
overcome any concerns,' says Nikki.

Around one thousand women die of cervical cancer in the UK each year[i].
It is estimated that early detection through cervical screening and
subsequent treatment can prevent up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers from
developing in the UK[i].

The current system of cervical cancer screening, introduced in the late
1980s throughout the NHS, is aimed at women across the UK 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 link between cervical cancer and infection from the human
papillomavirus (HPV) is widely recognised. Persistent HPV infection can lead
to the development of pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix.

Paul Eros, director of molecular diagnostics at leading healthcare
company, Roche, sponsors of the blog, said: 'Latest scientific research from
around the world indicates that testing for HPV is a surer method of
pinpointing high-risk cases of cervical pre-cancer since the virus is
associated with >99.7 per cent of all cervical cancer. Currently, the
screening programme does not test on a routine basis for the presence of HPV.
Doing so could lead to better detection of those women at risk. Also, women
who are not at risk benefit from attending screens less often, leading to
cost and efficiency savings for the NHS.'

'It is important to note' stressed Paul Eros, 'that HPV testing still
involves women going for their screens and this is a very clear message in
the blog. What is different, is the way in which the sample is analysed.'

Nikki adds, 'These innovations are good news for the future but women
won't be able to benefit if they don't attend their smear in the first
instance. I want to highlight in my blog that the smear only takes a few
minutes and, yet, it could save your life.'

Robert Music, director, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust said, 'We welcome this
blog as an innovative way to remind women how essential it is to attend
cervical screening when they are invited under the current national screening
programme. We know that HPV testing has the ability to identify those women
at risk of cervical pre-cancer at an earlier stage and it is great to see
that this technology is going to be introduced in England for women with mild
or borderline results. Concurrently, however, we must all work hard to
increase awareness through channels like this blog and Cervical Screening
Awareness Week, to remind women how vital it is to attend their cervical
screen. This is evermore important, highlights Robert Music, 'as most recent
screening statistics have shown a fall in the number of women taking up their
invitation for screening.'

Nikki's insightful blog can be found at
mydiaryfromdownunder.wordpress.com/ and Nikki can also be followed on
Twitter at www.twitter.com/nikkibayley.

Nikki's Blog is supported by Roche.

About human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer

Cervical cancer causes approximately 1,000 deaths each year in the United
and is the most common cancer in females under 35[[ii]]. Persistent
infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) is the principal cause of cervical
cancer in women, with HPV implicated in greater than 99 percent of cervical
cancers worldwide. Of the more than 118 different types of HPV, 14 types are
currently considered high-risk for the development of cervical cancer and its
precursor lesions. HPV types 16 and 18 have been identified as the highest
risk genotypes, detected in approximately 70 percent of cervical cancers.
Nucleic acid (DNA) testing is a sensitive method for determining the presence
of a cervical HPV infection.

About the cobas(R) HPV Test and cobas(R) 4800 System

The Roche cobas(R) HPV test is a new generation of HPV testing which
simultaneously detects in one pass, 12 high-risk HPV types (HPV types 31, 33,
35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66 and 68) as a pooled result, as well as HPV
genotypes 16 and 18 individually.

Roche launched the cobas(R) 4800 HPV Test with CE Approval in 2009.

About Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust - www.jostrust.org.uk

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust (Jo's Trust) is the only UK charity dedicated
to women and their families affected by cervical cancer and cervical
abnormalities. They offer information, support and friendship to women of all
ages, to help them to understand the importance of cervical screening, and to
provide support if their screening shows up abnormalities or if they are
diagnosed with cancer.

Cervical Screening Awareness Week is 6th-12th June 2011. Supported by
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, the week is designed to raise public awareness of
cervical cancer prevention.

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in
research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and
diagnostics. Roche is the world's largest biotech company with truly
differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and
CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based
cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche's personalised
healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that
enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of
patients. In 2010, Roche had over 80,000 employees worldwide and invested
over 9 billion Swiss francs in R&D. The Group posted sales of 47.5 billion
Swiss francs
. Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche
Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more
information: www.roche.com and www.roche.co.uk

All trademarks used or mentioned in this release are protected by law.


[i] Source: Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust

[ii] Source: NHS Cancer Screening Programme. Cervical cancer is the most
common cancer in women under 35 in the UK.

For further information please contact: Justin Wilkes or Polly Cooper at Spink, Phone: +44(0)1444-811099, e.mail: justin at spinkhealth.com

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