Prof Stanley voices a concern that the majority of health professionals, particularly those working in the field of oncology, have had for several years. In 2003, the National Health Service Cervical Screening Program raised the lower age limit for cervical screening from 20 to 25 years. This policy change was in line with recommendations made by:
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency of the World Health Organisation that coordinates and conducts research into cancer
Research carried out by Cancer Research UK
The independent Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening.
A number of health professionals voiced concerns about this policy change as data since 2003 has shown that girls attain their sexual debut at a younger age and girls as youg as 14 or 15 years are sexually active, rasising fears that early age of exposure to HPV may increase their vulnerability to cervical cancer. In addition, there has been some media interest prompted by 2 highly publicised deaths from cervical cancer in women under the age of 30.
In response to these concerns and to ensure that the screening policy remains in the best interests of young women and is based on the latest available clinical evidence, in March 2009, the NHSCSP asked the independent Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening to formally review the evidence relating to risks and benefits of cervical screening in women under 25 years, including current evidence regarding incidence and mortality in young women.
I welcome this review and look forward to the outcome which, I hope will guide screening policy in young women, based on the most up to date scientific evidence.
Let us know if you’d like to contact Miss Olaitan regarding your cervical cancer concerns.