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EastEnders’ Tanya cancer scare could boost early screenings

PUBLISHED: 15:21 02 September 2011

Tanya Jessop (actress Jo Joyner) gets bombshell in EastEnders about cancer

Tanya Jessop (actress Jo Joyner) gets bombshell in EastEnders about cancer

BBC promo

Doctors expect a rise in the number of women getting treatment for cervical cancer as a result of a new storyline in the BBC’s EastEnders soap.

More women will be going for screening as a result, Barts and The London NHS Trust believes.

Tanya Jessop, played by Jo Joyner, receives the bombshell news that she has cancer following a routine smear test.

Viewers of the Walford soap based on neighbourhoods around Victoria Park will see the mum-of-three come to terms with it over the coming months as she undergoes treatment.

The storyline is being welcomed by East London NHS.

Barts oncology specialist Arjun Jeyarajah said: “Soaps like EastEnders highlight the importance of women having regular checks.

“Women often put their family or work first, so their personal health ends up at the bottom of the pile.”

Cervical cancer is treatable if detected early, he stressed, with survival rates exceeding 95 per cent if caught in time.

He added: “The disease carries few warning signs. Smear tests pick up subtle abnormalities—but if left undetected could become cancerous.”

Barts is a regional referral centre for east London with a unique trachelectomy procedure that involves removing the cervix—but preserving the uterus so women can still have children.

Tina Brown was 29 and looking forward to having children when she was told she had cervical cancer.

She said: “The diagnosis threw my world upside down. I was told the only way to treat it was a hysterectomy—meaning no kids.”

But Tina heard about Barts’ new tracheletomy procedure and was told she was a suitable candidate.

She was finally given the all clear—and 15 months later fell pregnant, giving birth to daughter Scarlett now aged 11.

She added: “I would have been dead in three years if the cancer had been left untreated. My daughter and I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the early screening.”

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