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The cervical cancer charity which turned to Hollywood to fight deadly disease

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust CEO reveals how 'passionate' celebrities can help increase screening rates

celebrities smear test

Olivia Colman has played many parts over the years, but none more important than her appearance in a film for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. The Oscar-winning actress is the latest prominent female to join the fight against the deadly disease, with the likes of Michelle Keegan, Louise Rednapp and Nadia Sawalha all having urged women to go for regular cervix screenings in the past. Sadly, the message is still to hit home.

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer, yet statistics show that one in three women and people with a cervix don't take up their invitation to screening. In the build up to International Women's Day, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust CEO Samantha Dixon sat down with HELLO! to explain how her charity is working with celebrities to increase the number of women who get screened. She also offered her top tips to those apprehensive over screening.

jos cancer trust

Samantha Dixon is on a mission to raise awareness

"It's really exciting and amazing to get to work with such incredible people," she said. "Celebrities who come to us are really passionate about this cause and want to raise awareness of symptoms of cervical cancer, of going through cervical cancer, and also how to prevent cervical cancer. We also reach out to those who have spoken about their screening publicly or supported Jo's in the past.

READ MORE: The early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer

Oliver Colman was the star turn in the Jo's Trust film for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, but she wasn't the only famous face to feature.

WATCH: Celebrities feature in film for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust

Other celebrities like Michelle Keegan and Rebecca Vardy have also been vocal about the importance of getting their smear tests on their social media accounts.

In 2018 Michelle posted a vlog on Instagram shortly after undergoing her own smear test to urge women to get screened. You can watch what she said in this video.

And Rebecca posted this picture taken during her smear test which she documented for Jo's Trust.

rebecca vardy smear test© Photo: Instagram

Rebecca Vardy is an advocate for the charity

Samantha said social media posts from stars like Michelle and Rebecca have a positive impact on attendance levels. 

"When celebrities go publicly and share what a screening is like and their own experience, it helps people understand what happens, makes them feel more comfortable, and raises awareness. The posts function as a reminder to book your screening."

The 'Jade Goody' effect

Famous woman can have a positive impact on screening levels for tragic reasons too. Once such person was Big Brother star Jade Goody who died from cervical cancer in 2009.

"There was something called 'The Jade Goody effect' when the number of people attending their cervical screening after she died jumped massively," said Samantha.

jade goody© Photo: Getty Images

Jade lost her life to cervical cancer in March 2009

The boost was short lived yet advances in technology make increasing the numbers being screened more important than ever.

"We have the incredible HPV vaccine and cervical screening programmes that can help us to eliminate cervical cancer but  there's still a lot of work to do," said Samantha. "Cervical screening attendance has been largely falling over the years and we can see now that there are fewer girls and boys in year nine getting HPV vaccines."

Cervical cancer screening top tips

During the candid chat, Samantha offered the trust's top tips for your smear test if you are feeling nervous - and some of them may surprise you!

Talk to your nurse or doctor

 If it is your first cervical screening, you feel embarrassed or worried, you have had a bad experience before, or you have experienced anything that makes the test hard for you, telling the person doing the test means they can try to give you the right support.

Ask for the first appointment of the day

If you feel uncomfortable in waiting rooms, you may want to ask to book the first appointment of the day. This can mean it is quieter and there is less time for you to wait.

Ask to book a longer or double appointment

Having more time before, during or after cervical screening can help people take in information about the test and process everything that happens. If this would be useful for you, you may want to check if your GP surgery can offer you a longer appointment.

Ask for a nurse or doctor of a particular gender

 You may feel more comfortable knowing that a female or male nurse will be doing your cervical screening. If you have a nurse or doctor you trust, you may want to check with your GP surgery if they are able to do it.

Take someone you trust with you

During the coronavirus pandemic, GP surgeries had to limit the number of people in the surgery but this rule no longer applies.

Take a blanket with you

You could bring a paper sheet or a towel and blanket to cover yourself if that makes you feel more comfortable.

Wear a skirt or dress

 If you feel comfortable wearing a skirt or dress, it may help you feel more covered. You can keep it on during the test and only take off your underwear.

Ask for a smaller speculum

 Speculums come in different sizes. If you find the standard size too uncomfortable, you can ask to try another size.

Put the speculum in yourself

You may feel more relaxed and comfortable about putting the speculum in your vagina yourself. If you have a partner with you, you may prefer them to put the speculum in.

Lie in a different position

Lying on your back may feel uncomfortable for lots of reasons. You can ask to lie on your left hand side with your knees bent (left lateral position).

Use post-menopausal prescriptions

If you have gone through or are going through the menopause, let your doctor or nurse know. After menopause, the opening of the vagina and vaginal walls become less able to stretch, which can make the test more uncomfortable. You can ask your nurse to give (prescribe) you a vaginal oestrogen cream or pessary, which may help.

Ask to be referred to colposcopy

Sometimes the nurse may not be able to see your cervix. This could be because you have a tilted cervix, cervical stenosis, or something else. It does not mean there is anything to worry about. The nurse may suggest you go to a colposcopy department for cervical screening, as they have equipment like adjustable beds that can help when trying to see the cervix.

Visit a specialist cervical screening clinic 

Some people prefer to go for cervical screening in a clinic that meets their needs.

For more information, visit:, or call their helpline at: 0808 802 8000


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