A National Health Service (NHS) program designed to increase awareness of and screening for cervical cancer in the UK has been credited with reducing cervical cancer rates by 35%.
According to Dr. Mike Quinn and colleagues at the UK Association of Cancer Registries, who authored a report published in In fact, before the program was instituted, 90% of women over age 40 and about 2/3 of women with cervical cancer had never had a Pap smear. Those who did get Pap smears tended to do so only when visiting their doctor for another reason.
The NHS program increased the percentage of women getting Pap smears from 42% to 85% over six years, from 1988 to 1994. Cervical cancer rates dropped from about 3,900 cases each year from 1971 to the mid-eighties to about 2,900 each year in 1995. Cervical cancer deaths declined from 6.1 per 100,000 women in 1987 to 3.7 per 100,000 in 1997.
“The latest data indicate that for women aged 25 to 54, screening might have prevented 800 deaths from cervical cancer in 1997,” concluded study authors.