Cervical Cancer: Screening

Department of Health written question – answered on 3rd July 2015.

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Photo of David Simpson David Simpson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to increase the access of cervical cancer screenings to women under the age of 25.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme provides all women between the ages of 25 to 64 the opportunity to be screened routinely to detect any cervical abnormalities at an early stage. The aim of the programme is to reduce the number of invasive cervical cancers by treating these abnormalities before they can lead to cancer. In 2012 the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) recommended that the age of first invitation for cervical screening should be age 25 on the basis that there is evidence of a large number of women screened and treated with relatively little benefit below this age. Cervical cancer in women under the age of 25 is very rare with just 2.6 cases per 100,000 women. Younger women often undergo natural and harmless changes in the cervix that screening would identify as cervical abnormalities, and in most cases these abnormalities resolve themselves without any need for treatment. The UK NSC recommendation concurred with a major review by the Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening in 2009.

Guidance for primary care on the management of young women who present with gynecological symptoms was developed and published in March 2010, Clinical practice guidelines for the assessment of young women aged 20-24 with abnormal vaginal bleeding. The guidance was produced by a multi-disciplinary group, including professionals, patients and the voluntary sector.

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