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Tanya cancer plot to drive rise in cervical cancer tests

Doctors expect to see an increase in the number of patients being treated for cervical cancer after EastEnders fans watch one of the soap's most popular characters battle the disease.

Viewers will see mother-of-three Tanya Jessop (Jo Joyner) diagnosed after a routine smear test.

Arjun Jeyarajah from Barts and the London NHS Trust said the storyline in the hit BBC1 soap could have a similar effect to that seen two years ago following the death from the disease of Big Brother star Jade Goody.

He said: "Soaps like EastEnders can do an awful lot of good in highlighting the importance of women looking after their health and having regular check-ups, including smear tests."

He added that the cancer was "very treatable" if detected early and women should have smear tests every three years.

On the day Goody was diagnosed in August 2008, Cancer Research UK witnessed 10 times the usual number of hits to its website and there was a rise in the number of women attending smear tests appointments.