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More women undergoing cervical screening

The number of eligible women undergoing cervical screening increased by just under 400,000 in 2008/09, says a report out today from The NHS Information Centre.

The report, Cervical Screening Programme, England 2008-09, shows the number of eligible women aged 25 to 64 being screened rose by just under 12% last year, from 3.2 million to 3.6 million.

The scale of the increase prompted the first rise in the programme’s coverage since 2002, with the percentage of eligible women who had been screened in the previous five years rising from 78.6% at 31 March 2008 to 78.9% at 31 March 2009.

The increase in screening was more prominent among younger age groups, with coverage among 25 to 49-year-olds who had undergone screening in the previous three to three-and-a-half years increasing from 69.3% at 31 March 2008 to 72.5% at 31 March 2009.

Overall the report showed:

  • The number of women (25 to 64) invited for screening fell to four million in 2008/09 from 4.2 million the previous year, a decrease of 3.8%.
  • The overall number of women (all ages) screened increased from 3.4 million from the previous year to 3.7 million in 2008/09 – an increase of 10.5%.
  • Test results were available for 21.4% of women within two weeks in 2008/09, compared to 11.1% the previous year. They were available within four weeks for 65.5% of women in 2008/09 compared to 59.6% in the previous year.

Chief executive of The NHS Information Centre, Tim Straughan, said: “The report shows that just under 400,000 more eligible women underwent cervical screening last year than in the previous year.

“This is a welcome boost in numbers which follows media personality Jade Goody’s highly publicised battle with the disease.

“It means more women are now up-to-date with their cervical screening test than last year, the first rise since 2002.

“Pleasingly our report also shows that women are getting their test results quicker than they did previously.”

Cervical Screening Programme, England 2008-09