Cervical cancer has the potential to be eliminated thanks to improved testing and vaccination, NHS officials claim.
A new detection method rolled out last month looks for traces of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which cause nearly all cervical tumours.
Women with HPV positive results are then referred for further checks which search for abnormal changes in the cervix.
NHS England claims a quarter of new cases could be prevented by the method, which is carried out at the same time as the conventional smear test.
Professor Peter Johnson, national clinical director for cancer, said he hoped that the technique, combined with the HPV jab, could see the disease ‘eliminated altogether by the NHS in England’.
The jab, which protects against other forms of cancer as well as cervical, is offered to all girls and boys aged 12 and 13.
About 2,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in England.