According to statistics from Cancer Research UK, around 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year resulting in over 900 deaths. It is now the most common cancer in women under the age of 35.
Cervical cancer is a preventable disease and preventative methods like cervical screening along with early detection are key to managing incidence and mortality rates.
Recent recommendations made by the UK NSC for standard cervical screening state that all women over the age of 25 should be regularly screened to detect any irregular or pre-cancerous cells in their cervix.
A known factor for the development of cervical cancer in women is the presence of the human papilloma virus (HPV), a virus found in the genital tract of most men and women who are sexually active.
The HPV vaccine has been found to be an extremely effective in protecting against specific premalignant disease of the cervix and the national vaccination programme for girls between 12 – 13 years old started in September 2008.
Dr Tony Falconer, President of the RCOG said:
“Regular cervical screening is vital among women aged 25 and over. Cervical cancer is easily preventable and early detection enables doctors to conduct further investigation into any irregularities that may develop into cancer.
“Preventative medicine needs to be the main focus rather than intervention, which can sometimes be too late. The national HPV vaccination programme for young girls is an excellent step towards this.
“Not being screened regularly is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer along with population-based measures which impact on the overall burden of the disease, including smoking, obesity and inadequate sexual healthcare.
“The NHS Cancer Screening programme has led to a significant reduction in the rate of cervical cancer but continued promotion is essential for us to see a continued reduction in the rates of this disease.
“The RCOG strongly encourages parents and girls who are of age to take up the offer of the national HPV vaccine and encourages all women to attend regular cervical screening tests.”
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