A study funded by Cancer Research UK has revealed that cervical cancer in women in their 20s rose by over 40 percent between 1992 and 2006 in England, despite the overall incidence of cervical cancer falling by 30 percent.
Results of the study will be presented at the annual National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference in Liverpool, England, that starts Sunday.
The study looked at overall trends in cervical cancer incidence in women aged between 20 and 79 years from 1982 to 2006.
The findings show that after initially dropping after the introduction of cervical screening in England, the number of women aged between 20 and 29 diagnosed with cervical cancer is now rising in most areas of the country.
Moreover, between 1992 and 1996, around five women aged 20-29 years in every 100,000 (963 cases, around 192 per year) were diagnosed with cervical cancer. This increased to around six per 100,000 between 2002 and 2006 (988 cases, around 197 per year).
By comparison, in women aged 50-79 years, the incidence dropped from about 17 per 100,000 (6,263 cases) between 1992 and 1996 to about 10 per 100,000 (4,089 cases) during 2002 and 2006.
Meanwhile, the latest figures for 2007-2008 show the rising trend for 20- to 29-year-olds is continuing with around nine women in every 100,000 (606 cases, 303 per year) now developing cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV infection is strongly associated with casual sex. The virus infects the anogential areas of males and female, and it can cause vulvar, vaginal, penile, and anal cancers.
"These figures show just how crucial it is for all 12-13-year-old girls to have the HPV vaccination. Human papillomavirus is a very common infection and the major cause of cervical cancer," Hazel Nunn, head of evidence and health information at Cancer Research UK, said in a statement.
"Our results show that although numbers getting cervical cancer are dropping in the immediate years after cervical screening began, the numbers of women in their 20s now developing the disease have been rising since the early 90s," researcher Robert Alston said.
Vaccines like Cervarix and Gardasil are prescribed to prevent HPV infection in various jurisdictions.