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Anger over smear test age cut-off

From Clare Farr

Chair, Western Cheshire Practice Managers' Group

I read with interest your story 'GPs under fire over smear test fall' (News, 25 January). Dr Anne Szarewski from Cancer Research UK said it was a 'big worry' that young women would be at raised risk of cervical cancer if they continued to avoid screening. Doctors at our practice would agree with these sentiments and have had occasion to undertake smears on women under the minimum target age of 25. Two of these women recently had their results reported as CIN3.

Because of our concern,

we have reported these as significant incidents to our local PCT who are equally concerned and intend to pass on the data to the relevant authorities in the hope these will inform future policy.

However, following hot foot on this, we received an e-mail from the public health

director for this region telling us we have no business undertaking smears on women under the target age and that all we are doing is raising anxiety.

The e-mail quoted a series of statistics to show women that age are not at any significant risk.

We were assured that data is already being collected from labs on this issue. However, I have heard on the grapevine that our local lab is less than happy with the way the data is interpreted.

I have also been informed recently that there is a young woman under 25 currently in the local hospice dying of cervical cancer.

What will they see fit to write on her death certificate – 'Cause of death: statistics'?

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