Over 50s smear tests important8th May 2009
UK researchers say cervical screening is still continuing to pick up abnormalities in women over the age of 50.
The findings come despite calls to cut the cervical screening programme in older women.
The Institute of Cancer Research team conducted a study of two million women and found serious cases would not be picked up if screening was removed in 50-64 age group.
Cervical cancer is the second most common in the UK in women under 35 with 99% of cases caused by the sexually transmitted infection HPV.
Screening identifies pre-cancerous changes and treats them before they become an invasive disease.
Study leader Dr Roger Blanks noted that stopping screening at 50 would save money but he said from the data there was no indication of a dramatic decrease to say there was no longer a risk.
He said further research was needed to see if there were any "very low risk groups" where screening could be stopped.
The study, carried out in southern England, found that removing screening in older women would miss a group who develop abnormalities later in life.
Currently, women aged 25 to 49 are invited for screening every three years and 50 to 64 every five years in England.
Cancer Research UK is concerned that sexually transmitted infections are rising dramatically in people over 45.
The charity’s clinical consultant Dr Anne Szarewski said: "This large study adds to the recent evidence that women over 50 should continue to be screened, as they continue to be at risk of developing cervical cancer."
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Title: Over 50s smear tests important
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 11308
Date Added: 8th May 2009