Screening programs in England and Wales have reduced the number of cases of a certain type of cervical cancer by up to 65 percent, researchers said on Friday. The benefits of Pap smears in detecting the most common form of cervical cancer are well known but new research by scientists at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund shows screening also reveals early signs of a rare type of the disease. “Cervical screening has come under a lot of scrutiny lately.
We know it’s not perfect, but this study does reinforce how effective it can be at preventing cancers,” Dr. Peter Sasieni said in a statement. The research, which is published in The Lancet medical journal, showed screening has helped to prevent cervical adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that has been increasing since the 1970s and 1980s. Researchers suspect the increase is due to greater exposure to the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) after the sexual revolution in the 1960s. Young women in their 20s and 30s have a greater risk of developing the illness.
“Without screening, this currently rare form of cervical cancer could become one of the top five cancers in women 30 years time,” said Sasieni. “We calculated that the number of adenocarcinomas in 1996-97 in women aged 25-54 years is nearly 65 percent lower than expected,” he added. Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancer affecting women throughout the world. It kills about 200,000 women each year. If it is caught early it can be successfully treated.