Cancer: Screening

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 2nd April 2019.

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Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the merits of raising the current clinical age limits for screening for (a) breast and (b) cervical cancer.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

In response to the Independent Breast Screening Review 2018, the United Kingdom National Screening Committee (UK NSC) has commissioned work to help clarify what the upper screening age in breast should be and discussed the findings at its meeting in February. The recommendation will be made to Ministers and minutes of the UK NSC meeting will be made available six weeks after the meeting at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/uk-national-screening-committee-uk-nsc

We continue to wait for the results of the Age Extension Trial to help provide the evidence needed to better understand what the benefits and harms are when offering screening outside the current recommended screening age.

Regarding the age for cervical screening, women will stop receiving routine invitations once they reach 65 unless they need ongoing surveillance or follow up. The natural history of cervical cancer means that it is unlikely that women over this age who have been regularly screened will go on to develop cervical cancer; furthermore, we know that screening becomes more uncomfortable for women as the cervix is less visible after menopause.

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