0610 GMT February 25, 2020
Health experts said poor take-up of smear tests among those aged between 25 and 29 has fueled a ‘worrying’ 54 percent rise in cases in the last decade, telegraph.co.uk reported.
They warned that while the death of TV star Jade Goody in 2009 boosted the numbers of young women seeking screening, that effect has now long worn off.
The generation is the last which is not protected by the HPV (human papillommavirus) vaccine, which was introduced for teenage girls in 2008.
HPV causes 99 percent of cervical cancers, with the vast majority of cases linked to two strains. New figures, from a sample of around 600 active women aged between 16 and 18, who were tested in 2018, found no cases of either strain was present. This compares with rates of more than 15 percent in such groups a decade before.
Ministers hailed the success of the program, which they said was ‘world-leading’.
But a separate report from Cancer Research UK warns that cases of cervical cancer are soaring among those in their late 20s, who grew up before national vaccination was introduced.
More than 3,000 women are being diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, including around 400 cases among those aged 25 to 29.
Among this group, rates rose from 12 cases per 100,000 women in 2004/2006 to 18.5 cases per 100,000 in 2015/20117 — a 54 percent increase.
Experts said the figures reflected low screening rates among such women, with just 61.9 percent taking up invitations for smears, compared with 78.4 percent of those in their early 50s.
Cervical screening rates rose by 70 percent in 2009, after TV star Jade Goody’s death from the disease.
But since 2010, take-up across all age groups has fallen from 78.9 percent to 71.9 percent.
Cancer Research UK's chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: "These figures show how research has protected thousands of people in the UK from cervical cancer, but they also highlight a worrying trend that shows progress is stalling and stagnating, which could undermine this success.
"Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented through screening, and now the disease is far less common in the UK.
"But these life-saving programs can't help people they can't reach, which is why it's important for us to continue to raise awareness and carry out research into how screening could be improved for hard-to-reach groups."
Professor Peter Johnson, NHS clinical director for cancer said: “More and more young women and men are being vaccinated against HPV, the most recent figures show an increase in people getting screened and most importantly, the number of people infected with the cancer-causing viruses has fallen dramatically. Together with the new way of cervical screening which has now been rolled out across England as part of our Long Term Plan, cervical cancer has the potential to become a thing of the past. It is vital that people go for their screening test, even if they are completely well — it could be a life-saver.”