Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Doctors Want Cervical Cancer Jab for Boys and Earlier Tests for Girls

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Doctors Want Cervical Cancer Jab for Boys and Earlier Tests for Girls

Article excerpt

Byline: Anna Davis Health Reporter, at the BMA Conference

DOCTORS today called for the cervical cancer vaccination programme to be rolled out to boys as well as girls.

They attacked the Government's "haphazard and piecemeal" approach to the disease and called for an overhaul in the way it is tackled.

The virus targeted by the vaccine can cause penile or anal cancer in men.

Members of the British Medical Association also voted at their meeting in Liverpool for women to be screened for cervical cancer from the age of 20, rather than 25.

The Government ruled last week that there should be no change to the current 25-year age limit on smear tests, even though it is 20 in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Dr Mary McCarthy, from south Staffordshire, said: "Until 2003 in England the age screening started at 20. The high-profile death of Jade Goody has led to more requests for screening from younger women. Is it ethical to refuse 24-year-olds a smear test? "The message should be clear and consistent. The NHS should not have different policies in different areas.

"Telling our patients that in England they do not need a smear until they are 25 may give them the impression that a smear is not important."

But Dr Surendra Kumar, a member of the Department of Health's advisory committee on cervical cancer, said younger women who are tested for cervical cancer are more likely to have a false positive test. They will therefore have unnecessary treatment, which could increase risks later in life.

Supporting lowering the age limit on smear tests, Dr Kate Bramall, said: "Some Primary Care Trusts will refuse to process smears taken from women under the age of 25. This is ridiculous.

"One of my school friends died at the age of 23 from cervical cancer and my best friend was diagnosed at 20. When the human cost is so high we need to make a stand for common sense."

Pressure to lower the screening age has been mounting since the death of Goody in March at the age of 27. …

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