There are no plans to lower the age for routine cervical cancer screening.
In the Isle of Man, the cervical cancer screening programme targets women aged 25 to 64, which is in line with the UK and, said Health Minister David Ashford, was based on ’current evidence’.
There were no plans to lower the age group.
He said women aged 20 to 24 were not offered routine screening because cervical cancer was rare in under-25s, with fewer than 1% of cases coming from that age group.
’There is an average of zero deaths among under-25s,’ he said in a written reply to a House of Keys question asking about the age range.
’Cervical screening has not been shown to reduce the number of cervical cancers in under-25s. We know this because, in countries where cervical screening starts at 20 years old, the number of people under 25 diagnosed with cervical cancer is not significantly different than in countries that start screening at 25 years old.’
He added that the HPV vaccine was likely to see a further reduction in cervical cancer cases among under-25s.
Mr Ashford added: ’Research suggests that the risks of offering cervical screening under the age of 25 outweigh the benefits.
’When you are under 25, it is common to have changes in the cells of your cervix (abnormal cells) and these usually go away by themselves. Knowing about these cell changes could lead to treatment when the changes may simply have gone away on their own.’
Some treatments carried with them a slightly increased risk of premature birth if the woman became pregnant in the future.
Mr Ashford added: ’As with all screening programmes, emerging evidence is kept under review and may lead to changes in the future.’
The issue was raised by Rob Callister (Onchan), who wanted to know whether the Department of Health and Social Care had considered lowering the age to 20.