Cervical cancer: Support research to prevent, diagnose and treat this disease

Last updated: 18/01/2013

Why this research is needed

Mother and daughterOver 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year. It is the most common cancer in women under 35 in the UK.

The screening programme can prevent many cervical cancers from developing in the first place and advances in treatment have also helped drive improvements for cervical cancer.

Two thirds of women now live for more than five years after diagnosis, but more needs to be done to beat this disease.

The impact of our research

Our researchers played an important role in finding the connection between the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and cervical cancer and also helped to develop screening programmes for the disease. We supported research that made it possible to develop the HPV vaccine, including large clinical trials to assess its safety.

With your help we can continue pioneering research to prevent, diagnose and treat cervical cancer.

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Gynaecological cancer awareness month - September 2012

Gynaecological cancers refer to all of the cancers that start in a woman's reproductive system including cervical, ovarian, womb, vaginal and vulval cancer. Around 19,600 women in the UK are diagnosed with gynaecological cancers every year.

Survival rates for gynaecological cancers have been increasing over the past 40 years, but early diagnosis is a key part of this, so make sure you attend screenings and are aware of the symptoms.

Should you notice any changes, it doesn't mean you definitely have cancer, but it does mean you should get checked out by your doctor. If it is something serious, spotting it at an early stage can make all the difference.

Read more about gynaecological cancers including symptoms, screening and treatments.

Funding of pioneering research

A few examples of the research projects you're helping to fund:

Cancer prevention

We have come a long way since the connection between cervical cancer and human papilloma virus (HPV) was first made two decades ago.

Vaccines have been developed against HPV to help prevent cervical cancer developing in the first place and a national vaccination programme was introduced in the UK in 2008 for girls 12 to 13 years old.

Professor John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is analysing data from the vaccination programme, using sophisticated models to understand how well the programme is working and what impact it could have on the number of women getting cervical cancer.

Professor Edmunds’ analysis could lead to improvements in the programme, helping to shape the future of HPV immunisation to save more lives.

Better ways to diagnose cervical cancer

The best weapon in the fight against cancer is to know how it works, how it develops and what causes it. The better we understand cancer, the more clues we have to help doctors and researchers identify new ways of diagnosing and treating it.

Dr Nicholas Coleman at the University of Cambridge is investigating how HPV causes cervical cancer. He and his team will look at what HPV does to healthy cells and what kind of damage it causes to their DNA. If he can identify changes in DNA that are caused by HPV, this could help open up new avenues of research to find ways to diagnose cervical cancer earlier and new ways of treating it, which may increase survival from the disease.

The difference you can make

The death rate for cervical cancer in women aged 55 - 64 has dropped by almost 80% since the early 1970s, largely due to the screening programme and to improved chemotherapy and radiotherapy - treatments, that thanks to your generosity, we helped to pioneer and develop.

Dr Coleman is growing cervical cells in the lab to understand how cervical cancer starts and develops - £26,000 would support two years of this 'tissue culture' work that is crucial for his research. With your support we can continue life-saving science like this - please donate today to help fund research to prevent, diagnose and treat cervical cancer.