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Comment on increased cervical screening attendance in Scotland

Tue, 03/09/2019 - 10:17

The most recent cervical screening statistics for Scotland have been released this morning and we have seen an increase of numbers of women attending screening, which is great news. Uptake across Scotland is now at 73.1% having increased from 72.8% from last year. The only age group with attendance still in decline are 25-29 year olds. 

Key stats from the report include:

  • The only age group in which uptake has fallen is among 25-29 years olds, from 62% last year to 61.8% this year. Uptake is highest among 50-54 year olds at 80.5%.
  • Attendance increased across almost every Health Board except Grampian, Lothian and the Western Isles. 
  • Uptake was highest in Shetland (80.1%) followed by Orkney (78.8%) while uptake was lowest Greater Glasgow & Clyde (69.7%).
  • Cervical screening uptake in women who have had the HPV vaccine is significantly higher than those who have not with only 30.7% of unvaccinated 25-year-olds attending screening.

Commenting on today's statistics: 

Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust:

“It is really positive to see that there has been an increase in cervical screening coverage across the majority of health boards and every age group except those aged 25-29. This shows that reversing the trend of falling attendance is not impossible and it’s vital this continues. We are pleased to see that awareness campaigns including those run by Scottish Government and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust look to have had a positive impact and it’s important to see Scotland continue to invest in them, as today’s results show the benefits they can bring both a national and local level. 

Despite results overall being positive we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. The youngest age group of 25-29, those who are being invited for their very first cervical screening, has sadly shown a further fall, with less than two thirds attending. Of even more concern is that those young women (25-29) who have not had the HPV vaccine have a much lower uptake of cervical screening, with only 30.7% of 25-year-olds who have not had the vaccine attending screening. This leaves this group at a greater risk of developing cervical cancer and we would like to see a targeted campaign to focus efforts on those who are most at risk.

This is the last set of cervical screening data before Scotland changes to HPV primary testing. It’s great that after 10 years of falls in coverage we have seen an overall increase and it is crucial that the messaging communicating the change is very clear and dispels myths and misconceptions about HPV, so that we can continue to see cervical screening uptake on the rise.”