Objective: I. To identify major trends in the incidence of and mortality from invasive cancer of the cervix uteri in Scotland during the twenty year period 1975-1994; II. to consider the extent to which these trends may have been shaped by the introduction of systematic cervical screening.
Design: Analysis of annual age standardised and age specific rates for incidence and mortality, based on data collected by the Scottish Cancer Registry and the General Register Office for Scotland.
Subjects: Women registered with the Scottish Cancer Registry as having developed invasive cancer of the cervix during the period of interest.
Results: Annual all ages incidence rates of invasive cervical cancer show little overall change over the period 1975-1989, but exhibit a pronounced decline from 1990 onwards. All-ages mortality rates show clear evidence of decline during the period 1975-1994, the rate for 1994 being some 30% lower than that for 1975. Annual age-specific incidence rates show different patterns by age group, with clear evidence of decreasing trends in the age range 50-64 years but different patterns in younger and older age groups. Most age groups show steep declines in incidence from 1990 onwards. Age specific mortality rates for 1975-1994 exhibit the most pronounced decreasing trends in the age range 50-64 years. The trends identified are broadly similar to those experienced in England and Wales over an approximately comparable period.
Conclusions: The overall (all ages) incidence of invasive cervical cancer in Scotland changed little during the period 1975-1989, but declined sharply from 1990 onwards. The most pronounced decline in incidence across the period 1975-1994 appears to have taken place in the age range 50-64 years. This decline has been accompanied by a commensurate fall in mortality in the same age range. These reductions in incidence and mortality may be attributable in part to increased coverage of cervical screening programmes during the period of interest. Evidence from other studies suggest that, without the increased coverage of cervical screening achieved during this period incidence rates in Scotland might have been seen to increase.