Cervical screening for under 25s has 'little impact on cancer rates'

Lowering the cervical screening age in England from 25 to 20 would have little impact on rates of invasive cervical cancer, UK research suggests.

Photograph: spl
Photograph: spl

The latest findings back up the DoH's decision not to lower the screening age to 20.

The DoH has been under pressure to lower the age following the high-profile case of Jade Goody, with England the only UK country to screen from 25 rather than 20.

A review published in June by the Independent Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening concluded that the screening age should remain at 25 as evidence showed that earlier screening could do more harm than good.

This latest study, led by Professor Peter Sasieni at Queen Mary, University of London, found no evidence that screening women aged 22-24 reduced the incidence of cervical cancer over the next five years.

The study involved 4,012 women aged 20-69 who were diagnosed with cervical cancer between 1990 and 2008 and a control group of 7,889 healthy women.

Overall, they found that screening between the ages of 30 and 37 was associated with a reduction in cancer risk over the next five years of between 43-60%, while screening at ages 20-24 had no detectable impact on cervical cancer rates under the age of 30.


BMJ Online 2009

  • Should the cervical screening age be lowered to 20 in England?

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