Fears of rising apathy about cervical cancer screening have triggered a major £250,000 scheme to tackle falling numbers among young women.
A new NHS report shows screening rates across the country have dropped dramatically, particularly among women under 35.
Researchers behind the report have blamed growing apathy among the age group about the need to check for the disease.
The sharpest drop was in the number of women aged 25–29 being screened, which stands at 66.2% after falling by 12.6% in the past decade.
The number of women aged 30–34 who had been screened in the past five years has fallen from 83.5% to 76.8% since 1998.
To tackle the problem the Department of Health has commissioned the Improvement Foundation to undertake a £250,000 project to look into ways in which cervical screening uptake can be improved.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "Lessons learned from this project will be shared across the whole programme by the end of 2009."
According to Cancer Research, 2,803 women in the UK were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2005. Cervical cancer caused 949 deaths in the UK in 2006.
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Cancer Research UK
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