To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) what guidance he has issued to primary care trusts on the use of full pelvic examinations in cases of suspected cervical cancer;
(2) what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) undertaken on the detection and diagnosis of cervical cancer (i) in general and (ii) among those aged between 20 and 24 years in the last 12 months.
"Clinical Practice Guidance for the Assessment of Young Women aged 20-24 with Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding" was issued through the Department of Health's GP and Practice Team Bulletin and Chief Nursing Officer's Bulletin in March 2010. The guidance, developed by the independent Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening (ACCS), re-emphasises the importance of pelvic examinations in young women with abnormal vaginal bleeding and provides primary care practitioners with an easy to follow algorithm to help in their management of these young women. A copy of the guidance has been placed in the Library.
Regarding research on the detection and diagnosis of cervical cancer in general and among those aged between 20 and 24 years in the last 12 months, NHS Cancer Screening Programmes provided funding of £52,000 in 2009-10 to Cancer Research UK on the ongoing audit of invasive cervical cancers. This included funding for specially commissioned work on younger women to inform the ACCS review of cervical screening in May 2009.
In addition, in autumn 2009 the Department commissioned the "What Women Know" survey to assess the current levels of knowledge about cervical cancer among women in England. The survey was carried out as part of an initiative in collaboration with the Eve Appeal and University College London's Health Behaviour Research Centre. It covered awareness of the symptoms and risk factors for cervical cancer, knowledge of the cervical screening and human papillomavirus vaccination programmes, anticipated barriers to seeking medical help with a possible cervical cancer symptom, and beliefs about screening and other protective behaviours.
The Department has also provided £4,000 to Jo's Trust, a charity that raises awareness of cervical cancer, to undertake a pilot to assess the potential for using television advertisements in general practitioner surgeries to improve uptake of cervical screening invitations.