Cervical cancer update: New research says screening should be focussed OLDER women

Cases of cervical cancer in young women are set to decline 75 per cent by 2040, a charity has predicted.

HPV is thought to cause nearly all cervical cancers and a vaccination against it has been offered to girls aged 11 to 13 since 2008.

Charity, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, which commissioned the new research said that cervical cancer among young women could be eradicated but incidence is set to increase among those too old to receive the jab.

It commissioned researchers from Queen Mary University of London to predict what cervical cancer incidence will look like in England over coming years.

The study, published in The Lancet Public Health, predicted that the disease, which is traditionally more common among younger women, will see a shift in “peak age” of cancer diagnosis.

It will be more commonly diagnosed among 55-to-59-year-olds by 2040, researchers found.

They wrote: “Going forward, focus should be placed on scenarios that offer less intensive screening for vaccinated women and more on increasing coverage and incorporation of new technologies to enhance current cervical screening among unvaccinated women.”

Using the modelling tool developed by the researchers, the charity predicted that women aged 50-64 will see a 62 per cent increase in incidence by 2040.

This could lead to a 143 per cent rise in mortality from 183 deaths in 2015 to 449 in 2040, the charity predicted.

Dr Alejandra Castanon, from Queen Mary University of London, said: “This study shows how the age-specific incidence of cervical cancer will change over the next 20 years.

“Women currently aged between 25 and 40 will remain at high risk of cervical cancer throughout their lives, whilst women younger than 25 will see their risk decrease. This has implications for the way we invest in and target screening.“

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “We are on the path to eradicating cervical cancer among young women, which is extraordinary. However, we are faced with an immediate challenge among women who will be over 50 in 2040.

“This research should serve as a wake-up call and the need for action. Continued declining cervical screening attendance will cost lives at all ages and must not happen.

“We are faced with an ageing population and risk among older women rocketing, therefore changes to the programme which could reduce this risk must be explored, including increasing the screening age from 64 and self-testing.

“We want to see cervical cancer become a disease of the past with no more women losing their lives to the disease.”

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