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Number of women having smears falls

There has been a fall in the number of women who are having smear tests in England, new figures reveal.

According to data released by the Information Centre For Health and Social Care, 3.4 million women of all ages were screened across the country in 2006-07, a drop of 6.7% from the figures recorded for 2005-06.

The number of women aged 25 to 64 being screened has fallen from 3.36 million to 3.17 million, a decrease of 5.6% after an increase of 2.4% the previous year.

The research also reveals that more than 40,000 fewer women aged 20 to 24 went for screening last year, compared with the previous year.

In 2005-06, a total of 180,509 women in that age group were screened, dropping to 138,935 in 2006-07.

However, there was a rise among those aged 25 to 29, from 435,781 screened in 2005-06 to 454,349 in 2006-07.

Among women aged 30 to 34, a total of 485,223 were screened in 2005-06, compared with 461,154 in 2006-07.

Coverage for all women screened at least once in the previous five years has fallen to 79.2% in 2006 compared with 79.5% the previous year and 82% in 1997.

Last week, the government announced it is to introduce jabs for girls as young as 12 to protect against cervical cancer.

They will be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted infection human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes around 70% of cases of the disease.

Information Centre For Health and Social Care

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