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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Mar;14(3):677-86.

Trends in cervical squamous cell carcinoma incidence in 13 European countries: changing risk and the effects of screening.

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  • 1International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.


Despite there being sufficient evidence for the effectiveness of screening by cytology in preventing cancer of the cervix uteri, screening policies vary widely among European countries, and incidence is increasing in younger women. This study analyzes trends in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the cervix uteri in 13 European countries to evaluate effectiveness of screening against a background of changing risk. Age-period-cohort models were fitted and period and cohort effects were estimated; these were considered as primarily indicative of screening interventions and changing etiology, respectively. A unique set of estimates was derived by fixing age slopes to one of several plausible age curves under the assumption that the relation between age and cervical cancer incidence is biologically determined. There were period-specific declines in cervical SCC in several countries, with the largest decreases seen in northern Europe. A pattern emerged across Europe of escalating risk in successive generations born after 1930. In the western European countries, a decrease followed by a stabilization of risk by cohort was accompanied by period-specific declines. In southern Europe, stable period, but increasing cohort trends, were observed. Substantial changes have occurred in cervical SCC incidence in Europe and well-organized screening programs have been highly effective in reducing the incidence of cervical SCC. Screening and changing sexual mores largely explain the changing period- and cohort-specific patterns, respectively. The increasing risk in recent cohorts is of obvious concern particularly in countries where no screening programs are in place. Further investigation of the effectiveness of opportunistic screening is warranted as is the observation of differing risk patterns in young cohorts in countries with relatively similar societal structures.

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