A new report has called for a change to the perception that cervical cancer only affects younger women.
The British Medical Journal report argues that the age limit for cervical screening should be raised to 70 as the number of older women affected by the disease continues to rise.
While cervical cancer remains the most common form of cancer for women under 35, half of all cervical cancer deaths now occur in women over 65.
Between 2010 and 2012, 449 women over 65 died from cervical cancer, compared to only seven under 25s. In 2013, however, only 72% of women aged 60-64 were screened in the previous five years, compared to 82% of 50-54 year-olds, and 76% of 55-59 year olds.
Despite widespread media attention on the cancer threats facing younger women, it is crucial women of all ages acknowledge that cervical cancer does not only affect younger women and that regular screenings could maximise effective treatment if the disease is caught early.
Women aged over 65 should still undergo testing as 20% of new cervical cancer diagnoses occur in this age group. Perceptions around cervical cancer need to be aligned more with the way people perceive breast and bowel cancer as the disease continues to affect women well into old age even if they have been celibate for long periods of time.
The report reveals that women who have been regularly screened between the ages of 50 and 64 had a “relatively low risk” of developing cervical cancer in the next 20 years, compared to those who had not been tested.
Cervical screening is estimated to save 4,500 lives in England each year. At present however, the NHS cervical screening programme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland stops sending cervical screening invitations once women reach the age of 65.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can lie dormant for many years and it is vital women understand they can still request cervical screening after the age of 65. Regular testing remains the most effective way of minimising one’s risk of cervical cancer, and if you have any concerns about your cervical health, it is important you get in touch with your GP.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers help people who have suffered from delayed or wrong diagnosis of cancer due to Medical Negligence.
For a free consultation call the Medical Negligence Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.