Women living in deprived areas are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer than those in affluent areas, according to a report published by the National Cancer Intelligence Network.

The report shows that in the most deprived areas of England 12 women per 100,000 were diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2000 and 2004, compared with six women per 100,000 in the most affluent areas.

Researchers said the gap is mainly fuelled by a lower take-up of cervical screening in deprived areas, in addition to higher rates of smoking and an earlier onset in sexual activity. They added previous research has shown women in deprived areas are 40 per cent less likely to attend cervical screenings.