asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, pursuant to the answer of 12 March, Official Report, columns 516–18, relating to the incidence of cancer of the cervix between 1965 and 1982, to what factors he attributes the trend shown by the figures; and what steps are being taken to seek to reverse it.
An increase in the number of registrations of carcinoma-in-situ of cervix uteri is to be expected because more women are attending for smear tests. The number of smear tests taken increased from 765,000 to 3 million over the same period. I am advised that the overall fall in registrations of malignant neoplasm of the cervix uteri is likely to be the result of more women having smear tests and treatment while the disease process is in the early stages. This is the aim of the screening programme. The figures for women under the age of 35 are an indication that cancer of the cervix has become somewhat less uncommon in that age group during this period. All health authorities have been required to give priority to improving cervical cancer screening programmes, including implementation of computerised call and recall systems by April 1988.