Bad news for teenage girls: while rates of cervical cancer are going down in women over 25, among 15 to 19-year-olds, rates are rising year on year.

Jillian Birch, at the University of Manchester, UK, and her colleagues examined national cancer incidence data and looked specifically at young people aged 15 to 24.

They noticed that between 1979 and 2003, the incidence of cervical cancer had increased by 1.6% per year. When they examined the data more closely, they found that people aged 15 to 19 were driving that increase, with the rate going up 6.8%, Birch told the Teenage Cancer Trust’s fifth international conference in London today.cervical cancer

Previous studies indicate that most women who get infected with the virus contract it in their teens or early 20s. But while many women are simply able to clear the virus, and others develop a slow-growing cancer decades later, when cervical cancer appears in young women it can develop rapidly.

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