The Grapevine

Cervical Cancer Awareness Campaign Uses Smeared Lipstick Selfies To Encourage Pap Smears In UK

Cervical Cancer Campaign
A new cervical cancer campaign is circulating throughout social media. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Selfies are uploaded by the millions every single day, but it isn’t often they’re posted for the purpose of saving women’s lives. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in the United Kingdom has launched a selfie campaign like none other called #SmearForSmear. The clever campaign title is trying to spread awareness in order to get more women into doctors’ offices for their routine Pap smears.

Throw on some lipstick for the camera, smear it however you like, take a selfie, and post it on social media with the appropriate hashtag. It’s a simple yet effective way of reaching out to younger populations of women who may not be as aware of the importance of getting tested.

SmearForSmear Campaign Cervical cancer campaign takes over social media selfies. Photo courtesy of Instagram

"The number of women taking up their cervical screening invitation in the UK is going down year on year and this is extremely worrying," Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust spokeswoman Maddy Durrant told the Huffington Post. "Smear tests can prevent women from ever reaching a diagnosis, or can ensure early diagnosis so treatment plans are less extensive and side effects less impactful. Similarly, an early diagnosis means a better chance of survival. Quite simply, a smear test could save a woman’s life."

An alarming 20 percent of women actually think cervical screening is a superfluous health test for women, but little do they know about 4,100 women will die from cervical cancer in the United States by the end of 2015. Cervical cancer can be found early, and sometimes prevented entirely, by simply having a regular Pap smear test at your gynecologist’s office. Because of smear tests, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers of all. However, if found in its latest stage, there's only a 15 percent chance of survival, according to the American Cancer Society.

In the UK, one in three women between the ages of 25 and 29 are skipping testing, which only increases the likelihood of someone with cervical cancer slipping through the cracks. Going untested means choosing risks we can’t afford with our health. Hopefully, a little smudge of rouge for Instagram can boost the numbers to a higher compliance and save some lives along the way. Celebrities, such as Georgia May Jagger and Rita Ora, have come onboard to help the campaign grow in popularity by reaching out to their target audiences flooding social media.

"We understand it’s near impossible to replicate a viral campaign like the Ice Bucket Challenge as these campaigns often start organically and require a little bit of magic," Durrant said. "Smearing lipstick was an obvious — and very visual — choice. Using a hashtag that directly links the cause with the image was also key."

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