NHS Cervical Screening Programme

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NHS Cervical Screening Programme

A national surveillance programme run in each of the four countries of the UK for early detection of cervical cancer and pre-cancer, which is based on assessing cells (cytology) obtained from the uterine cervix for malignant or pre-malignant changes.

Cervical cytology screening is offered triennially to women from age 20 to 60 in Scotland and 25 to 50 in England, and every five years from 50 to 65. The chain of responsibility for the cervical cytology screening programme flows from the DH, to the strategic health authority, to the primary care trust, to the hospital trust. A criticism of the screening programme is the age at which screening begins—i.e., to assume a “reasonable” age of onset of sexual activity, and that 100% of dysplasias and invasive carcinomas will be picked up on the first screening pap smear at age 25