§ Mrs. Currie
[holding answer 18 December 1987]: The Department's cancer screening evaluation unit has estimated that the additional cost in England and Wales of a change from five-yearly to three-yearly screening for all women aged 20 to 64 would, assuming 100 per cent. acceptance of screening, be somewhat over £22 million per annum.
The additional cost of a change from three-yearly screening beginning at age 20 to three-yearly screening beginning at age 17 would, assuming 100 per cent. acceptance of screening, be about £4 million per annum.
Ensuring that all results were available within one week would require considerable over-capacity in laboratories in order that they could cope with fluctuations in demand. The further cost that would be required has not been calculated, since maintaining such over-capacity would not seem to be the best use of resources.
The national policy is to screen women aged 20 to 64 ever five years. Epidemiological studies indicate that 404W women screened in line with this policy are 84 per cent. less likely than unscreened women to develop invasive cervical cancer. I am advised that our efforts should be directed at increasing uptake, since increasing the proportion of women being screened in line with this policy will have a greater impact on death rates than increasing the frequency of screening.