Doctors attending the British Medical Association (BMA) conference have voted three to one in favour of reducing the age of cervical cancer screening to 20.
The move by delegates to back demands for the age to be cut from 25 to 20 challenges a recent government decision, which ruled out the reduction, despite a high-profile campaign on the issue.
Charities have been calling for women to be screened at a younger age in light of 27-year-old Big Brother star Jade Goody, who died from the cancer in March.
The government has been told to reduce the age to match policies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where women attend screening from the age of 20.
Women in England were also tested at the same age up until 2003 when the government changed its guidelines.
Proposing the motion, Dr Mary McCarthy, a GP from Staffordshire, said the number of women attending smear tests had dropped 10% in the last 10 years so it was vital to get more women in for screening.
She said: “The poorest attenders – at 72% – are those in the younger age group.”
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