Starting cervical cancer screening at 25 years of age: The time has come

Learn about the potential benefits associated with delaying cervical cancer screening

Learn about the potential benefits associated with delaying cervical cancer screening

Most provincial and territorial guidelines recommend that cervical cancer screening start at age 21. However, this commentary from the Canadian Medical Association Journal questions the benefits of screening in younger women (21-24 years) when their risk of cervical cancer is very low, and vaccination over the last 10+ years will lessen it further.

Quick facts

  • Vaccination against human papillomavirus has led to a substantial decrease in high-grade cervical lesions among young women, even with moderate vaccination levels.
  • Screening younger women is costly and has the potential to harm.
  • In 2013, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC) recommended increasing the age to start cervical cancer screening to 25 years; however, only two provinces have updated their guidelines to reflect this change.
  • Vaccination against HPV has led to a substantial decrease in high grade cervical lesions among young women, even with moderate vaccination levels due to herd immunity.
  • OncoSim-Cervical estimated that delaying the start age of cervical cancer screening to 25 years in Canada could spare young women from 160,000 screens and 15,000 follow up colposcopies, and could save $30 million per year.
  • Evidence indicates that it is reasonable for Canadian provinces and territories to advise that women now begin screening at age 25 years.

Read the full article Starting cervical cancer screening at 25 years of age: the time has come.

About OncoSim-Cervical

OncoSim is a free, web-based cancer simulation tool combining data from the real world, expert opinion, and the published literature. Its projections have been used by decision makers across Canada to support cancer control decisions. OncoSim is led and supported by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, with model development by Statistics Canada.

OncoSim-Cervical is a mathematical simulation model of cervical cancer; it reflects disease progression and clinical treatment pathways consistent with current knowledge and evidence-based practice of cervical cancer in Canada. The model simulates human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cervical cancer progression to project cervical cancer outcomes (e.g. cervical cancer incidence and deaths, colposcopies, follow-up protocols, treatments and costs).