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Impact of screening on cervical cancer incidence in England: a time trend analysis
  1. Francesca Pesola,
  2. Peter Sasieni
  1. School of Cancer and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Francesca Pesola; francesca.pesola{at}


Objectives To better model underlying trends in cervical cancer incidence so as to model past trends, to estimate the impact of cervical screening on cervical cancer rates at different ages and to obtain a counterfactual baseline under a no-screening scenario.

Design Trend analysis of cancer registry data recorded between 1971 and 2013.

Setting England.

Participants 132 493 women aged 20–84 with a diagnosis of cervical cancer.

Outcome measure Cervical cancer incidence data were modelled using a modified age period cohort model able to capture both increased exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV) as well as changes in the age of exposure to HPV in young cohorts. Observed rates were compared with counterfactual baseline rates under a no-screening scenario to estimate the protective effect of screening.

Results Rates of cervical cancer incidence have been decreasing since the introduction of screening but are projected to increase in the future under the current scenario. Between 1988 and 2013, it was estimated that screening had prevented approximately 65 000 cancers. Moreover, in 2013, the age-standardised rate (ASR) estimated under the no-screening scenario (37.9, 95% CI 37.4 to 38.3) was threefold higher among women aged 20–84 than the observed ASR (12.8, 95% CI 12.3 to 13.3). We estimate that the age of first HPV exposure has decreased by about 1 year every decade since the early 1970s (women born in 1955 onwards).

Conclusions Our results corroborated the importance of screening in preventing cervical cancer and indicated future rates are dependent on age at HPV exposure. Estimated future rates can be used for healthcare planning while the counterfactual baseline to quantify the impact of HPV vaccination in microsimulations.

  • public health
  • adult oncology

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  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Contributors FP was responsible for study design and data analysis and drafted the paper. PS was responsible for study concept and design and contributed to editing of the paper.

  • Funding The research was supported by a grant from Cancer Research UK (C8162/A16892).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The data are available and can be obtained from Public Health England through the Office for Data Release (ODR). The authors can provide data specification for the data request.