Cervical Cancer

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st February 1989.

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Photo of Mr Jimmy Wray Mr Jimmy Wray , Glasgow Provan 12:00 am, 21st February 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are the latest figures for women affected by cervical cancer aged (a) 25 years or less and (b) over 25 years.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

The latest information available is for 1984. In England and Wales there were 41 registered, newly diagnosed cases of malignant neoplasm of the cervix in women aged under 25. There were 4,002 cases in women aged 25 and over.

Photo of Mr Jimmy Wray Mr Jimmy Wray , Glasgow Provan

Does the Minister agree that over 2,000 women a year are dying from cervical cancer? Why do the Government not spend the additional £20 million that would provide a 90 per cent. coverage? The hospitalisation bill is £15,000 per patient. That is equivalent to £30 million. The project to screen women once every five years costs £30 million. All the Minister needs to do is to spend £20 million and he would be £10 million in pocket.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

I confirm that there are 2,000 avoidable deaths each year. If the policy of introducing screening for all women between the ages of 20 and 54 at least once every five years were introduced and if it covered all women between those ages, it would cut deaths by about 85 per cent. Our policy of screening women at least once every five years will enable us to reach more women and therefore to save more lives. To concentrate on a shorter frequency in the long run is, I agree, the ideal, but if we went for a shorter cycle we should inevitably reach fewer women.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

Will my hon. Friend remember those who die of breast cancer? The numbers are now quite horrendous. Will he therefore expedite the provision of mammography for all women in the particularly vulnerable age group of 50 and older?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. She is absolutely right that the breast screening programme—which is new, unlike screening for cancer of the cervix, which commenced in 1966—is most valuable and saves the lives of many women. We are keeping that programme under close review, and I shall bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said.

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie , Kirkcaldy

Does the Minister agree that the latest date for which information is available is 1984 and that that is appalling? When will that be improved?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

I share some of the hon. Gentleman's concern, but he ought to appreciate that the information that is collected by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys depends in part on figures that come from voluntary organisations. It is not, therefore, within my power to ensure that comprehensive figures are available for the most recent years, much though I should like to do so.