The Yorkshire Cancer Research project, funded by a £135,000 investment, aims to investigate why older women are less likely to attend cervical cancer screening appointments, or develop the training and awareness to encourage them to get tested. Research conducted by the National Cancer Intelligence Network indicates that Yorkshire and the Humber has the highest incidence rate of cervical cancer in England, more than double that of lower incidence rates found in the south and east. Cases of cervical cancer are also particularly high in women aged over 70, and it is believed that this is due to a reduction in the number of women attending screening appointments after the age of 55.
The YCR project will include in-depth interviews with patients aged 55-64 in Yorkshire to understand their views and experiences. Interviews with health professionals will also take place to determine attitudes towards the screening of older women and views on its effectiveness.
Project lead Dr Una Macleod, Professor of Primary Care Medicine at Hull York Medical School, said: “Prevention and early detection of cervical cancer through screening is vital. Previous studies have found that for every 1,000 women screened regularly between 50-64 years old, there would be roughly nine fewer cancers between 65-70 years old. Screening substantially reduces the risk of cervical cancer in older women.
“However, whilst older women are at increased risk of developing cervical cancer, they are least likely to present for screening. There is a lack of interview-based research into cervical screening experiences and attitudes amongst patients and health professionals. Our investigation will be the first step in promoting awareness across patient and GP groups, with the aim of increasing the early detection of cervical cancer and achieving better outcomes among Yorkshire patients.”
The project is part of a £5m investment recently announced by Yorkshire Cancer Research, which will focus on improving cancer incidence and mortality rates in the county. According to data provided by Public Health England, people in Yorkshire are more likely to get cancer, and more likely to die from it, than most other counties in England.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Head of Research and Innovation at Yorkshire Cancer Research, added: “Some women don’t realise that there is a spike in the number of cases of cervical cancer over the age of 70. It’s important that they realise that continuing to attend screening appointments is vital in identifying abnormalities at an early stage when they are relatively easy to treat.”
For more information visit: http://yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk/news/charity-aims-to-improve-cervical-cancer-screening-rates-in-older-women/#.VYGZgE3bJzk