GPs failing to give full cervical cancer examinations

New guidance issued as GPs are accused of failing to give young women with cervical cancer symptoms full examinations...

Young women with possible symptoms of cervical cancer are having their diagnoses delayed by GPs who recommend a smear test rather than full pelvic examinations, Britain’s leading oncologist has warned.

Sir Mike Richards, the Department of Health‘s clinical director for cancer, told The Times that family doctors needed to fast-track all suspected cases for examination. The recommendation will be part of guidance issued today by the Government to assist doctors to spot symptoms early.

Professor Richards said the new guidance, based on findings from the Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening, would address the shortfalls in cervical cancer diagnosis in women in their early 20s.

He said that the guidelines would mean that about 15,000 women aged 20 to 24 with symptoms such as abnormal bleeding would have the pelvic examination. About 50 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in this age group annually.

Overall, 1,000 women die of cervical cancer annually in Britain. Calls for increased screening of younger woman followed the death of Jade Goody, the Big Brother contestant, last year. However, the Government decided against it after commissioning a scientific review which stated unanimously that lowering the age for smear tests would do more harm than good.

Jacqui Graves, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘We welcome new guidance recommending that GPs fast-track women for an immediate full pelvic examination on all suspected cases of cervical cancer.’

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