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Cervical Cancer: Screening

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment her Department has made of the reasons for recent trends in attendance levels for cervical screening by 25 to 29 year-olds. (124395)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 7 March 2007, Official Report, column 2094W, to the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess).

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of cervical smears for younger women. (128799)

Research carried out by Cancer Research UK and presented to the Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening coupled with 15 years of experience of screening has shown that screening women under the age of 25 may do more harm than good.

The cervix is still developing in women under 25 and during the cervical screening process, this development can look like cervical abnormalities, giving a false positive result and resulting in unnecessary investigations and treatments.

By increasing the starting age of cervical screening to 25, we are reducing the number of these unnecessary investigations and unnecessary treatments, as well as reducing the anxiety they cause.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency of the World Health Organisation, endorse the current starting age of 25 and recent evidence has show that treatment with LLETZ (large loop excision of the transformation zone), following an abnormal cervical sample test, can cause premature delivery in later pregnancies.

Women under 25 who are concerned about their risk of developing cervical cancer or about sexual health should contact their general practitioner or genito-urinary medicine clinic.