The current Australian National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) involves biennial, cytology‐based screening of women from the age of 18 years. From December, 2017 this will change to a five‐yearly human papilloma virus‐based screening commencing at age 25. There is some concern that the new program may delay the opportunistic detection of cervical cancers in women under 25 years.
(1) To review all cases of invasive cervical cancer in Queensland women under the age of 25 over the last 28 years. (2) To determine symptoms and screening history prior to diagnosis.
A retrospective cohort study was undertaken at the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer (QCGC) and the Queensland Cancer Registry (QCR) of all women aged between 13 and 25 years diagnosed with cervical cancer in Queensland between 1984 and 2012. Demographic data and symptoms prior to diagnosis were extracted from the QCGC and QCR databases.
A total of 56 women aged 13–25, were diagnosed with cervical cancer and treated at the QCGC between 1984 and 2012. The commonest reason for the diagnosis of cancer was investigation of abnormal symptoms (n = 22, 39%) rather than routine Pap smear abnormalities (n = 15, 26%).
Consistent with the world literature, there is a very low incidence of cervical cancer in women under 25 years of age, irrespective of the age of commencement of screening, or the screening interval. Our study lends some support to the proposed commencement age of 25 years in the new NCSP.