By: 17 March 2014
Age-old question of cervical screening

The age at which cervical screening should commence is a source of debate, as there
are benefits and disadvantages to its early practice. This prompted
Dr Dudill to ask: should we be performing cervical screening under the age of 25?



The age for commencing enrolment onto the UK’s cervical screening programme has long been debated. Recent media interest following the death of celebrity Jade Goody has been seen to positively impact on the uptake of cervical smears whilst heightening the general public’s awareness regarding the potential for cervical cancer to present under the age of 25.

The NHS cervical screening programme (NHSCSP) was first introduced in 1964 and when first audited five years later it was apparent that many cases of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) were being missed. It seemed that those at highest risk were being missed and those with positive results were being inappropriately followed up.1

In order to encourage uptake of cervical smears and standardise screening across the United Kingdom, the department of health in 1988 insisted on the introduction of a computer-based recall system for all women between the ages of 20 and 65.2

With the introduction of the call and recall system, incidence and mortality from cervical cancer have continued to fall. Attempts to engage women with the screening programme has meant 4.24 million women were invited to attend for cervical screening in 2012, of which 3.32 million were tested…3


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