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Health: Cervical Smears

Volume 699: debated on Friday 22 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will introduce annual cervical smear tests to detect cancer among women, instead of three-yearly tests. [HL1774]

There are no plans to replace three-yearly cervical screening with annual cervical screening.

In May 2004, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation, concluded that organised and quality-controlled cervical screening can achieve an 80 per cent reduction in the mortality of cervical cancer; and that women aged 25 to 49 should be screened no more than every three years, and women aged 50 to 64 no more than every five years. The IARC working group which made these conclusions consisted of 28 experts from 14 countries. This policy has been in operation in England since October 2003.

The National Health Service cervical screening programme is renowned as being one of the best in the world, and experts estimate it saves up to 5,000 lives per year.