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Cervical cancer in Australia and the United Kingdom: comparison of screening policy and uptake, and cancer incidence and mortality.

Canfell K, Sitas F, Beral V.

Med J Australia 2006; 185 :482-486.

OBJECTIVE: To compare cervical screening policy, screening uptake, and changes in cervical cancer incidence and mortality between Australia and the United Kingdom.

DESIGN: Analysis of screening registry data and national cancer statistics.

SETTING: In Australia, organised cervical screening was initiated in 1991 for sexually active women aged 18-69 years, with a recommended 2-yearly interval. In the UK, organised screening began in 1988 for women aged 20-64 years, with a recommended 3-yearly interval in most regions.

RESULTS: Estimated lifetime screening participation rates in 2001 were similar in the two countries, at 88% in Australia and 90% in the UK. For women who were screened and had a negative result, the median time to the next screen was 27 months in Australia and 38 months in the UK. At 39 months, equivalent proportions (74%) had been re-screened in the two countries, and by 60 months the re-screened proportions were 81% in Australia and 94% in the UK. From 1991-1993 to 1998-2000, the incidence of cervical cancer in women aged 20-69 years fell by 33% in Australia and 33% in the UK, and mortality from cervical cancer fell by 36% in both countries.

CONCLUSIONS: After the introduction of organised screening, similar reductions in cervical cancer incidence and mortality were achieved in Australia and the UK. Therefore, the 2-yearly screening policy in Australia and the predominantly 3-yearly screening policy in the UK appear to have been of broadly similar effectiveness.