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Cervical Cancer: Screening

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 131314, tabled on 17 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department plans to make of the effectiveness of only testing for cervical cell changes for people who test positive for HPV following their cervical cancer screening.

Answered on

11 January 2021

In November 2015, the United Kingdom National Screening Committee (UK NSC) recommended that women who test positive for human papillomavirus infection (HPV) would go on to have cytology or assessment of cell changes. The recommendation was that HPV screening should replace the previously used cytology test as the primary screening for cervical disease. Evidence from four European randomised controlled trials considered the use of high-risk HPV (hrHPV) testing as a primary screening test and found that hrHPV was found in 99.7% of cervical cancers as it looks for the presence of the virus which in turn can detect more pre-cancerous lesions than cytology. HrHPV testing has been shown to reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer through increased sensitivity for underlying disease.

The programme recommends that women continue to be screened regularly and speak to their general practitioner if they have any concerns or symptoms.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care