Landy R, Birke H, Castanon A, Sasieni P. Benefits and harms of cervical screening from age 20 years compared with screening from age 25 years. Br J Cancer. 2014 Apr 2;110(7):1841-6. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.65. Epub 2014 Feb 11. PubMed PMID: 24518600; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3974083.
To quantify the benefits (cancer prevention and down-staging) and harms (recall and excess treatment) of cervical screening starting from age 20 years rather than from age 25 years.
We use routine screening and cancer incidence statistics from Wales (for screening from age 20 years) and England (screening from 25 years), and unpublished data from the National Audit of Invasive Cervical Cancer to estimate the number of: screening tests, women with abnormal results, referrals to colposcopy, women treated, and diagnoses of micro-invasive (stage 1A) and frank-invasive (stage IB+) cervical cancers (under three different scenarios) in women invited for screening from age 20 years and from 25 years.
Inviting 100,000 women from age 20 years yields an additional: 119,000 screens, 20,000 non-negative results, 8000 colposcopy referrals, and an extra 3000 women treated when compared with inviting from age 25 years. Screening from age 20 years prevents between three and nine frank invasive cancers and between 0 and 23 cancers in total (depending on the scenario). A cumulative increase of nine stage IB+ cancers corresponds to an annual rate increase of 0.9 per 100,000 women aged 20-29 years.
To prevent one frank invasive cancer, one would need to do between 12,500 and 40,000 additional screening tests in the age group 20-24 years and treat between 300 and 900 women.
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