03/23/2009 at 08:00 AM EDT
, Jade Goody saved lives, her friends and cancer charities say.
Cancer organizations report a phenomenal rise in women approaching them for information and cancer screenings after the media coverage of the 27-year-old British reality-TV star's battle with cervical cancer, which is considered preventable if caught early enough.
"Her legacy will be that a lot of women owe their lives to Jade Goody because of her public announcement and battle against cervical cancer," her friend and publicist Max Clifford tells PEOPLE.
Robert Music, director of the cervical-cancer group Jo's Trust
, says some British cytologists have reported as much as a 30-percent increase among women being tested. In one area that normally sees 1,200 women being screened in a week, the same number was processed in a single day.
"We are seeing huge interest in all areas of our work, from hits on our Web site to people joining our forums," Music says.
Cancer Research UK, Britain's largest cancer charity, gives Goody credit for an upswing in awareness about the disease.
"Jade's brave battle with an aggressive form of cervical cancer has received widespread public attention and encouraged thousands of women to seek advice on how to prevent the disease,” chief executive Harpal Kumar says in a statement.
Adds columnist Sue Carroll, of the U.K.'s Daily Mirror
, speaking to PEOPLE: "You can't avoid the fact that she has exposed the horrors of her cancer and her appearance has triggered the increase in number of women having tests."