Cervical screening saves thousands of lives

Published 16th July, 2004

According to research by Julian Peto et al, published in The Lancet (Vol.364: 249-56) on 16 July 2004, up to 5,000 deaths are being prevented each year by the cervical screening programme.

Julietta Patnick, Director, NHS Cancer Screening Programmes says:

"I am delighted that these findings recognise the huge contribution that the cervical screening programme has made to saving women's lives. We work hard to set the highest standards to ensure that women can access our world leading, high quality cervical screening programme. As this research shows, regular screening is one of the best defences against cervical cancer and so I urge all women to attend when invited."

The research analysed trends in mortality before 1988 (when the call and recall programme was introduced nationally) in order to estimate the increase in cervical cancer mortality that would have taken place if the programme had not been introduced. Findings include:

  • The cervical cancer death-rate increased threefold from 1967 to 1987 in women aged under 35 - a trend that has been reversed since the national screening programme began in 1988
  • Cervical screening has prevented an increase in deaths from cervical cancer that would have killed one in 65 of all British women born since 1950
  • The death rate is substantially lower in women who were first screened when they were younger (under 30).

For more information go to The Lancet.

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