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Cervical screening coverage: lowest levels amongst women under 30

ยท Highest levels amongst women aged 50 to 54

25 November 2014

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional data is available within this report

Latest figures show that cervical screening coverage2 is considerably lower for women aged 25 to 29 than for those in older age groups.

As at 31 March 2014, screening coverage for women aged 25 to 29 was 63.3 per cent - the equivalent of fewer than two out of three women screened. Although this is an increase of 1.3 percentage points from 31 March 2013, it is 18.3 percentage points lower than for women aged 50 to 542,who had the highest level of coverage at 81.6 per cent.

Women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited3 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.

Today's report; Cervical Screening Programme, England, Statistics for 2013-14, is used to inform policy and to monitor the quality and effectiveness of screening services. It also shows that:

  • 4.24 million women aged 25 to 64 were invited for screening in 2013-14 and in 2012-134
  • 3.23 million women were tested - a fall of 2.9 per cent from 2012-13 when 3.32 million were tested
  • At 31 March 2014, cervical screening coverage amongst women aged 25 to 64 was 77.8 per cent. This compares with 78.3 per cent at 31 March 2013 and 80.6 per cent 10 years ago at 31 March 2004
  • Regionally, five year coverage of the full target age group (25 to 64 years) was lowest in London at 75.2 per cent and highest in the East Midlands at 79.8 per cent
  • Amongst women aged 25 to 64 with adequate5 tests in 2013-14:

        -  93.4 per cent had a negative result

        - 6.6 per cent had a result categorised as abnormal6 - from borderline change through to potential cervical cancer

        - 1.3 per cent had a result showing a high-grade abnormality.

HSCIC Chair Kingsley Manning, said: "Today's report highlights differences in cervical screening levels between women of different ages and shows differences between regions of the country.

"I'm sure health professionals and organisations with a focus on cervical cancer will be interested that women under 30 have the lowest levels of cervical screening coverage and will use this, as well as the other findings of the report, in planning their future work."

You can view the full report at: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/cervical1314

ENDS


Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.
  2. Coverage is defined as the percentage of women in a population who were eligible for screening on March 31 in any given year and who were screened adequately within a specified period.
  3. As the frequency with which women are invited for screening is dependent on age, coverage is calculated differently for different age groups. For the complete target age group (25 to 64 years), coverage is calculated as the number of women in this age group who have had an adequate screening test within the last five years as a percentage of the eligible population aged 25 to 64. For those aged 25 to 49, coverage is calculated as the number of women in this age group who have had an adequate screening test within the last three and a half years as a percentage of the eligible population aged 25 to 49. For those aged 50 to 64, coverage is calculated as the number of women in this age group who have had an adequate screening test within the last five years as a percentage of the eligible population aged 50 to 64. Women ineligible for screening and not included in coverage are those whose recall has been ceased for clinical reasons (most commonly due to hysterectomy). National policy is that women are offered screening every three or five years depending on their age. Women aged 25 to 49 are invited for routine screening every three years, whereas those aged 50 to 64 are invited for routine screening every five years.
  4. In 2013-14, 4,244,755 women aged 25 to 64 were invited for screening. In 2012-13 - 4,235,069 women aged 25 to 64 were invited.
  5. In a small proportion of cases the pathology laboratory is unable to assess the cells on the cytology slide to give a result and the test is considered inadequate. In such cases women are asked to return for a repeat test three months later.
  6. An abnormal test result includes borderline change, low-grade dyskaryosis (dyskaryosis is a term used to describe changes in the cells of the cervix), high-grade dyskaryosis (moderate), high-grade dyskaryosis (severe) and potential cancer (i.e. high-grade dyskaryosis/suspected invasive squamous carcinoma and suspected glandular neoplasia of endocervical type). A high-grade abnormality includes results of high-grade dyskaryosis (moderate), high-grade dyskaryosis (severe) and potential cancer.
  7. For media enquiries please contact media@hscic.gov.uk or 0300 30 33 888.
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