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Hundreds of lives will be spared each year in England thanks to a more sensitive cervical screening test rolled out as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
NHS England claim that there is ‘potential’ to eliminate cervical cancer completely thanks to the change in primary test within the NHS Cervical Cancer Screening Programme, combined with the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine. The test now looks for traces of high risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. Any tests that are HPV positive are then checked for abnormal changes of the cervix.
HPV is a group of viruses with more than 100 types, but 14 types can cause cervical cancer as well as some head and neck cancers. It means that any sign of infection will be spotted at an earlier stage before it could potentially develop into cancer.
There are 2,500 new cases of cervical cancer in England every year. However, a quarter of those could be prevented with this new way of testing. Every part of the country has had the new way of screening in place since December 2019.
Peter Johnson, national clinical director for cancer said: “Screening is one of the most effective ways of protecting against cervical cancer and there is no doubt this new way of testing will save lives. It is vitally important that all eligible people attend for their screening appointments, to keep themselves safe. Combined with the success of the HPV vaccine for both boys and girls, we hope that cervical cancer can be eliminated altogether by the NHS in England. The chances of surviving cancer are at a record high, but there is always more we can do, as we continue to deliver our Long Term Plan.”
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