Cervical screening: proportion of younger women screened falls

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Cervical screening: proportion of younger women screened falls

The proportion of women aged 25 to 49 years who have had cervical screening has fallen by two percentage points, a new report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows.

At 31 March 2013, 71.5 per cent of women aged between 25 and 49 had been screened in the last three and a half years, compared to 73.5 per cent at the same point in 2012.

The proportion of women screened (known as ‘coverage’) (2) fell in every five year age group between 25 and 49 years from March 2012 to March 2013, but the largest percentage point decrease was among 35 to 39 year olds, where coverage dropped by 2.4 percentage points to 73.7 per cent.

Women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited for regular cervical screening under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. This is intended to detect abnormalities within the cervix that could, if undetected and untreated, develop into cervical cancer.

Women are invited for screening at different intervals depending on their age and coverage is calculated according to different timeframes for different age groups.

Today’s report; Cervical Screening Programme, England, 2012-13, is used to inform policy and to monitor the quality and effectiveness of screening services. It also shows:

Coverage of the full target age group of 25 to 64 year olds was 78.3 per cent at March 31 2013 compared to 78.6 per cent at the same point in 2012 and 81.2 per cent in 2003.

Coverage of 50 to 64 year olds fell from 77.8 per cent at March 31 2012 to 77.5 per cent at March 31 2013.

93.5 per cent of women aged 25 to 64 whose tests were adequate (3) returned negative results, meaning no cell abnormalities were found, 6.5 per cent had a result categorised as abnormal (4) and 1.2 per cent of women tested in 2012-13 had a result showing a high-grade abnormality.

HSCIC Chair Kingsley Manning, said: “This report provides vital information for clinicians and planners on how many women are being screened under this important programme.

“While we cannot tell how many abnormalities might be being missed among those women not taking up the invitation for screening, it is concerning to see the fall in coverage among the younger women.”

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