§ 60. Mr. George Howarth
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to improve the administration of the cervical cytology testing service in Merseyside; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Currie
We issued Departmental guidance on the provision of cervical cancer screening in circular HC(88)1, a copy of which is available in the Library. Its local 553W application is a matter for the health authorities and family practitioner committees concerned. The hon. Member may wish to pursue any local matters with the chairman of the appropriate health authority or family practitioner committee.
§ 62. Mr. Andrew Bowden
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has routinely to include women aged 65 years and over in screening programmes for breast cancer.
§ Mrs. Currie
The NHS breast cancer screening programme is modelled on the recommendations made in the Forrest report. Having considered the incidence of the disease and the evidence on the benefits of screening in different age groups, the report recommended that the 50-64 age group should be the first to be selected for routine screening. We are following this recommendation. The Forrest report also suggested that screening should be available on request for women aged 65 and over. We have accepted this advice and, once the service becomes available in an area, any woman aged 65 and over who wants to be screened should be able to contact her local screening office to make an appointment.
Our main effort now is to get the arrangements running throughout the country and we would not expect to make any changes until we have had some experience of the present system. The advisory committee on breast cancer screening, which is advising on the development of the service, is keeping the question of age under review.
Any woman, irrespective of her age, who has the slightest cause for concern—for example, a small lump—should arrange to see her GP at once.