Cancer Research UK reassures on cervical testing

In collaboration with the Press Association

Treatment to remove abnormal cells following an abnormal smear only poses a "minimal" risk to women says Cancer Research UK. The statement follows research that claims treatment may be linked to complications in pregnancy.

Researchers at the Royal Preston Hospital said that operations to remove potentially pre-cancerous cells led to a "small but real increase" of problems such as premature births or complications requiring caesarean delivery in later pregnancies.

Professor Peter Sasieni, cervical screening expert at Cancer Research UK, said that the risks are minimal and should not deter women from attending screening or subsequent treatment.

"If a woman has been told she needs treatment for any abnormalities of the cells, it could be essential that she has the necessary treatment to prevent cervical cancer from developing, but she should discuss all the options with her doctor," he said.

"It is important to have published information so we understand more about the side effects that treatment for cervical abnormalities can cause. Experts in the UK are already aware of these side effects and are looking at ways to reduce them.

"It is partly for this reason that the screening programme in England no longer invites women aged 20-24 for screening, when the chance of recommending treatment is great, but the chance of developing cancer is very small," he added.