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More younger women attending cervical cancer screening

By Nigel Praities

Cervical cancer screening rates have risen in women aged 25 to 64 for the first time since 2002, figures from the NHS Information Centre show.

Experts link the rise – which is particularly marked in younger age groups – with the publicity surrounding the death of reality TV star Jade Goody earlier this year.

The figures show 78.9% of eligible women in England were screened compared with 78.6% last year.

The increase in coverage is more prominent amongst younger women, with the proportion of 25 to 49 year olds attending cervical screening increasing to 72.5%, compared with 69.3% last year.

Overall coverage for cervical cancer in eligible groups was 80% or higher in 67 of the 152 PCTs in England, compared to 63 in the previous year.

Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support said: 'We are pleased that more young women are having the smear test and hope this rise continues, as screening undoubtedly saves lives.

'When spotted early, abnormalities can usually be treated successfully, and that is why it is also essential that women attend follow up appointments for further tests.

'Jade Goody really did leave a lasting legacy. She was open and honest about having cancer and as a result, so many more young women are now looking at their own health and are motivated into taking action.

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