Lower the age you are offered a cervical screening (smear test) from 25 to 16

I would like women to be offered a smear test from the age of 16 in the UK instead of having to wait until you are 25.

This petition closed on 4 Feb 2021 with 61,444 signatures


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Recent Documents related to Lower the age you are offered a cervical screening (smear test) from 25 to 16

1. Cervical screening: standards report 2018 to 2019
13/01/2020 - Public Health England (PHE)
- View source

Found: Cervical screening standards data report 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 reduce health inequalities.

2. NHS screening programmes: annual report
08/03/2019 - Public Health England (PHE)
- View source

Found: NHS Screening Programmes in England 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 32ContentsForeword 4-5What do we screen

3. Debate on e-petition 225767 relating to lowering the age for smear tests for cervical cancer from 25 to 18
24/01/2019 - Commons Research

Found: 24 January 2019 E-petition 225767 on the age for cervical cancer smear tests By Manjit Gheera Carl Baker

4. NHS screening programmes: annual report
08/03/2019 - Public Health England (PHE)
- View source

Found: 2014 to 2015NHS Screening Programmes in England This report is full of examples that show why the English

5. NHS screening programmes: annual report
08/03/2019 - Public Health England (PHE)
- View source

Found: NHS Screening Programmes in England Public Health England leads the NHS Screening Programmes December

Latest Documents
Recent Speeches related to Lower the age you are offered a cervical screening (smear test) from 25 to 16

1. Cervical Cancer Smear Tests
28/01/2019 - Westminster Hall

1: 225767 relating to lowering the age for smear tests for cervical cancer from 25 to 18.It is a great - Speech Link

2. Provision of Cervical Screening
27/01/2017 - Commons Chamber

1: this week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. The phrasing is important, because cervical cancer is notable - Speech Link
2: fantastic idea. Only this week, I went for my own smear because of the campaign and the highlighting of - Speech Link
3: to partake in such activity.I thank Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust for the work that it does all year - Speech Link

3. Vaccinations and Health Screening Services
14/05/2019 - Grand Committee

1: Ladies”, because all contributors to this debate are women—earlier this month the Public Accounts Committee - Speech Link

4. Oral Answers to Questions
26/03/2019 - Commons Chamber

1: this with the devolved institutions as well, but would he agree to a meeting with me—and with the mental - Speech Link
2: shocking that we even need baby banks in this day and age. Does the Secretary of State agree with me that it - Speech Link
3: that would meet employee demand. I recognise some of the challenges that there are, and I would be delighted - Speech Link
4: Livewell. I can confirm that the members there would still be dealt with in the way set out prior to - Speech Link
5: General Hospital could deliver the NHS’s 10-year plan would be to have the funding for an urgent care hub. I - Speech Link
6: pounds. Considering his own experience of such a gene test, does he not recognise that this just increases - Speech Link
7: for their children and other sufferers that they would have access to if they lived in Germany, the Netherlands - Speech Link
8: to afford their prescriptions, and 71% told Asthma UK they skipped their asthma medication due to cost - Speech Link

5. Cancer Strategy
22/02/2018 - Commons Chamber

1: improving transparency in priorities and accountability would help to support the delivery of the strategy. At - Speech Link
2: know how to improve things. In addition, the ageing UK population cannot be left out of the conversation - Speech Link
3: said about time and intend to respect it.On 25 January, in the other place—the House of Lords as - Speech Link

6. Prostate Cancer
06/02/2019 - Commons Chamber

1: will have attended the event held by Cancer Research UK in Portcullis House this morning. It is timely given - Speech Link
2: we know that there are scientists—clever men and women—striving every day to find such cures. Indeed, life - Speech Link
3: chill. An even more important issue than having screening is that we should be aware of our bodies. - Speech Link
4: echo his words that, simply put, men just do not like to tell anybody when they are not well. When people - Speech Link

7. Cervical Cancer Screening
01/05/2014 - Commons Chamber

1: relating to the tragic death of Sophie Jones from cervical cancer; believes that the Government should urgently - Speech Link
2: relating to the tragic death of Sophie Jones from cervical cancer; believes that the Government should urgently - Speech Link
3: introduction of routine cervical screening for all women and young girls under 25, but I am calling on the - Speech Link

8. World Cancer Day
30/01/2019 - Westminster Hall

1: who is a constituent of mine and a Cancer Research UK volunteer, the Palace of Westminster will mark World - Speech Link

9. Oral Answers to Questions
05/12/2018 - Commons Chamber

1: part-time or insecure jobs are often taken up by women, because of difficulties in balancing work and the - Speech Link
2: employment, because there are 63,000 more women in employment in Wales than there were in 2010. I also point - Speech Link
3: small, and I think the UK Government should be absolutely ashamed to find themselves on that list. The - Speech Link
4: poverty rates are lower than they were in 2010, and unemployment in Wales is lower than the UK average. There - Speech Link

10. Oral Answers to Questions
28/01/2020 - Commons Chamber

1: a matter for the Treasury, and the Chancellor would not be thrilled if I announced tax policy in the - Speech Link
2: number of nurses. There is generally a four-week wait for an appointment, although the centre has provided - Speech Link
3: from Age UK show that 1.5 million people aged 65 and over have an unmet social care need, and Age UK estimates - Speech Link
4: their care home costs and now only covers around 25%. That is why we must ensure that we address this - Speech Link
5: know that the Future Fit programme, if passed, would have brought not only £312 million but a lot of - Speech Link
6: but my door is open to the hon. Lady. If she would like to see me at the back of the Speaker’s Chair - Speech Link
7: with learning disabilities die so early—on average 25 years younger than the general population. We must - Speech Link
8: make healthier choices, combined with improved screening and diagnostic services, will help to increase - Speech Link
9: My hon. Friend mentioned screening; we have put extra resources into screening and scanners, including - Speech Link

Latest Speeches
Recent Questions related to Lower the age you are offered a cervical screening (smear test) from 25 to 16
1. Cervical Cancer: Screening
asked by: Christian Matheson
04/02/2020
... what steps his Department is taking to ensure that women under the age of 25 with a history of cervical cancer can request a smear test.

2. Cervical Cancer: Screening
asked by: Christian Matheson
17/03/2020
... regardless of (a) age and (b) time since their last smear test.

3. Cervical Cancer: Screening
asked by: Lisa Cameron
31/10/2018
... what plans his Department has to ensure that 25-30 year old women attend their smear test appointments.

4. Cervical Cancer: Screening
asked by: Antoinette Sandbach
01/11/2018
... whether GP’s have authority to request cervical cancer smear tests when patients under 25 show symptoms of cervical cancer.

5. Cervical Cancer: Screening
asked by: Christian Matheson
31/10/2019
... what assessment his Department has made of the most appropriate test for patients presenting with symptoms of cervical cancer; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that women with symptoms of cervical cancer under the age of 25 are encouraged to return to their GP if they are denied a cervical screening test but symptoms continue.

Latest Questions

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Many women have signs of cervical cancer but are not offered a smear test until they are 25 years old. I believe you should be offered a smear test from the age of 16 as this is when you are legally allowed to be sexually active.


Government Response

In line with recommendations from the World Health Organization and UK National Screening Committee, cervical screening is not offered to women under 25 because it can cause more harm than benefit.


Cervical screening is vital in the early detection of cervical abnormalities that could cause cancer. The NHS cervical screening programme saves an estimated 5,000 lives per year, and is a key part of the Government’s commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan to detect 75% of cancers at stage 1 or 2, and for 55,000 more people to survive cancer for five years in England each year from 2028. Routine cervical screening is only offered to women between the ages of 25 and 64 in England because screening beyond this age range can cause more harm than good. However, anyone of any age worried about cervical cancer or who notices any symptoms should not wait for a routine screening appointment and see their GP as soon as possible.

Screening programmes and policy are based on the advice of the United Kingdom National Screening Committee (UK NSC). Using research evidence, pilot programmes and economic evaluation, it assesses the evidence for programmes against a set of internationally recognised criteria.

The UK NSC carefully weighs up the harms and benefits when recommending a new screening programme, or a modification to an existing one. It is only where the offer to screen provides more benefit than harm that a screening programme is recommended.
The UK NSC looked at the evidence for the age at which cervical screening is first offered in 2012. It found that screening women under the age of 25 causes more harm than good.

This is because cervical screening doesn’t test for cancer, but for the human papillomavirus (HPV) and abnormal cells which, if left untreated, can develop into cancer. These abnormal cells are very common in younger women, and in the vast majority of cases will resolve with no intervention required. As changes are very common in a young woman’s cervix, women screened twice (at 20 and 23) before the age of 25 have a 1 in 3 risk of having an abnormal test result (on at least one occasion) and a 1 in 20 chance of being treated.

Research shows that an abnormal test result and unnecessary treatment can lead to significant anxiety for this substantial group of women. Follow up investigations can also be harmful, including the risk of women subsequently suffering premature labour.

You can read more about the UK NSC’s research and recommendations here: https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/cervicalcancer, https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20150401104305/http://www.screening.nhs.uk/cervicalcancer

Following the 2012 recommendation a frequently asked questions document was developed to help answer some common questions about the decision. This can be found at: https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/cervicalcancer-qa

The UK NSC regularly reviews the evidence for screening programmes to take into account the changing factors that can influence a programme, such as new screening technologies, and will change its recommendations if necessary.

Because almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV, another important facet of preventing cervical cancer is vaccinating against this virus. The HPV vaccination programme reduces the incidence of HPV infection circulating in the population by vaccinating girls and young women, thereby preventing cervical cancer related to HPV infection. The first dose is offered in school year 8 in England and Wales to girls 12-13 years old.

The vaccine has led to a dramatic reduction in HPV infection in young women in England, and will reduce the risk of cervical cancer in this population. The incidence of HPV infections in sexually active women aged 16-18 years fell from 17.6% prior to the immunisation programme in 2008 to 4% in the period 4-5 years post vaccination.

HPV circulation is further decreased by offering the HPV vaccine to boys. From September 2019, boys in school year 8 have also been offered the HPV vaccine.

A sustained programme of HPV vaccination is eventually expected to save over 300 lives a year and prevent precancerous lesions in girls that require invasive treatment and can cause significant distress. Modelling produced by the University of Warwick estimates that by 2058 the HPV vaccine currently being used may have prevented up to 64,138 HPV-related cervical cancers and 49,649 other HPV-related cancers in the UK. Further information on this can be found at; https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hpv-vaccine-could-prevent-over-100-000-cancers.

With this vaccination offer and the potential harms of screening women younger than 25, there is little evidence in favour of lowering the age of cervical screening. Even though the screening programme only applies to women between the ages of 25 and 64, it is important however that all women should be vigilant of the symptoms of cervical cancer. Women of any age should see their GP if they are worried and not wait for a cervical screening appointment. Symptoms include bleeding between periods, during or after sex, or after you have been through the menopause, and unusual vaginal discharge.

Department of Health and Social Care