Cervical screening coverage is considerably lower for women aged 25 to 29 than for those in older age groups, according to latest figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

In the 12 months to 31 March 2014, screening coverage for women aged 25-29 was just 63.3%. Although this represented an increase of 1.3 percentage points from the year to 31 March 2013, it is 18.3 percentage points lower than for women aged 50-54, who had the highest level of coverage at 81.6%.

Women aged 25- 64 are invited for regular cervical screening under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. This is intended to detect abnormalities within the cervix that could, if undetected and untreated, develop into cervical cancer.

Today's report, Cervical Screening Programme, England, Statistics for 2013-14, is used to inform policy and to monitor the quality and effectiveness of screening services. It revealed that:

  • 4.24 million women aged 25-64 were invited for screening in 2013-14 and in 2012-13
  • 3.23 million women were tested – a fall of 2.9% from 2012-13 when 3.32 million were tested
  • At 31 March 2014, cervical screening coverage among women aged 25-64 was 77.8%. This compares with 78.3% at 31 March 2013 and 80.6% 10 years ago at 31 March 2004
  • Five year coverage across the whole 25-64 demographic was lowest in London (75.2%) and highest in the East Midlands at (79.8%)
  • Among women aged 25-64 with adequate tests in 2013-14:
    • 93.4% had a negative result
    • 6.6% had a result categorised as abnormal – from borderline change through to potential cervical cancer
    • 1.3% had a result showing a high-grade abnormality.
HSCIC Chair Kingsley Manning, said: “Today’s report highlights differences in cervical screening levels between women of different ages and shows differences between regions of the country. 

“I’m sure health professionals and organisations with a focus on cervical cancer will be interested that women under 30 have the lowest levels of cervical screening coverage and will use this, as well as the other findings of the report, in planning their future work.”

You can view the full report at: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/cervical1314