REGIONAL screening for women living in the Sha Tin area will be provided at the new cancer centre opening at the Prince of Wales Hospital at the beginning of next year. Most developed countries have screening programmes now, and these have been shown to be cost effective, but Hong Kong has failed to follow this lead. 'I've been told that as many as 60 per cent of women in Hong Kong have never had a smear test,' said Dr Alexander Chang. 'But we need some hard, accurate data.' There is no central registry, so there's no way of knowing how many Hong Kong women are tested.' The new centre will keep a database and send women reminders when their next test is due. Before the screening programme is given the final go-ahead, Dr Chang said they need to be certain that the Government will provide sufficient funds, not only for the programme but for follow-up tests and treatments. 'If we can't provide speedy follow-up treatment for women diagnosed with early cancer, it would be unethical.'