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Cervical screening uptake in Scotland decreases due to the pandemic

Tue, 05/10/2021 - 10:00


The latest cervical screening statistics for Scotland were released this morning. Uptake has fallen to 69.3%, down from 71.2% in 2020. This means fewer than 7 in 10 women and people with a cervix had their test when they were invited. Just over one million eligible women participated in screening over the last year  

The key statistics are:

  • Uptake increased with age. The age group with the lowest uptake is 25-29, just over half of this age group attended (55%). Highest uptake is seen in 50-54, at 79% 
  • In age group 25-49, health boards with bigger cities have the lowest uptake, with Greater Glasgow and Clyde at 61.4% compared to Shetland at 78.5%
  • Those from the most deprived areas are far less likely to take part in the screening programme, with uptake only 63% compared with 74% in the least deprived areas.
  • Cervical screening uptake is higher in HPV-vaccinated women (68%) when compared to non-vaccinated women (32%)
  • The positive impact of HPV testing can be seen as a smaller number are now tested for cell changes but a higher number of high grade cell changes are being picked up, showing those at higher cancer risk are being picked up

Samantha Dixon, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust commented on the figures: 

“It is not surprising to see screening attendance has declined over the past year. However these statistics must serve as a catalyst for action. We should not just focus on recovering from the impact of COVID but instead should be looking at how we can improve uptake and what can be done to remove the barriers that exist. There are stark inequalities in attendance and COVID has only widened the gaps. There is far lower uptake among more deprived communities, while only half of young women across Scotland take up their invitation, and just two thirds of under 50s attend in Greater Glasgow and Clyde. We must innovate and look to potential solutions such as HPV self-sampling and urine sampling while ensuring that every woman and person with a cervix has the information and support they need to make an informed decision about screening.”


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