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Study demonstrates the importance of regular cervical cancer screening

A study published recently in the British Journal of Cancer, carried out at the Queen Mary University of London (London, UK), has demonstrated the effectiveness of cervical screening in terms of preventing death from cervical cancer.

In England, there are on average 796 deaths a year from cervical cancer in women of all ages. By carrying out a population-based case–control study, the team of researchers demonstrated that regular screening is associated with a 67% reduction in stage 1A cancer and a 95% reduction in stage three or worse cervical cancer, indicating that the association between cervical cancer screening and incidence is stronger in more advanced stages of cancer.

The researchers estimated that cervical cancer screening in England currently prevents 70% of cervical cancer deaths and that if all eligible women were screened regularly this figure could rise to 83%. Specifically, without screening an additional 1827 more UK women would die from the disease and if all women aged 25–64 years were screened regularly an extra 347 lives could be saved.

Lead author Peter Sasieni (Queen Mary University of London) commented: “This study looked at the impact of cervical screening on deaths from the disease and estimated the number of lives the screening programme saves each year. Thousands of women in the UK are alive and healthy today thanks to cervical screening. The cervical screening programme already prevents thousands of cancers each year and as it continues to improve, by testing all samples for the human papilloma virus, even more women are likely to avoid this disease.”

Overall, their results highlighted the importance of regular cervical screening. The researchers believe that that their results should be utilized to promote regular screening among women and encourage policy makers to implement more structured screening programmes.

Sources: Landy R, Pesola F, Castañón A, Sasieni P; Impact of cervical screening on cervical cancer mortality: estimation using stage-specific results from a nested case-control study Br. J. Cancer. (2016); Cancer Research UK press release