Campaign to boost cervical screening numbers

All eligible women urged to attend.

A hard-hitting new advertising campaign will be rolled out later this year to encourage more women to have their smear test.

The online campaign is being designed to target women aged 25-34, who have been shown to be among those least likely to attend.

Figures published this morning show that almost seven in ten (69.2%) eligible women in Scotland took up the invitation for cervical screening over the three and a half year period to 31st March 2016.

The new statistics show a drop of 1.2 percentage points compared to the 31st March 2015 figure (70.4%).

Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said:

“This recent decrease follows a similar trend in recent years. While this may be as a result of the change in age group invited for cervical screening, bringing women into the programme for the first time at 25 instead of 20, we’re determined to increase the number of women attending.

“Cervical screening - ‘the smear test’ - is an effective method of significantly reducing cases of and deaths from cervical cancer, and in detecting cancer as early as possible. It saves around 5,000 lives in the UK every year and treatment prevents eight out of 10 cervical cancers from developing.

“We will soon be launching a new marketing campaign with NHS Health Scotland to drive home the importance, particularly with younger women, of attending their smear test when invited. These efforts will support the work that NHS Boards continue to do locally to increase the uptake in the programme, and take every opportunity to reinforce the importance of attending cervical screening.

“I would urge all eligible women to take up their invitation for screening and hope that this bold new campaign will raise awareness of those benefits and encourage women to make an appointment.”

Notes to editors

Of the 399,150 cervical screening tests processed in 2015-16, 97.5% were of satisfactory quality. Of those, 90.8% had a negative result, 7.9% had a low grade cell change and the remaining 1.2% had high grade cell changes.

Full access to the statistical publication can be accessed on the ISD Scotland website:

Cervical screening is routinely offered to women aged 25-49 in Scotland every three years, and to women aged 50-64 every five years. The screening is to identify cell changes in the cervix which could develop to be cancerous. Cervical screening has been shown to reduce cervical cancer incidence and mortality. Changes in cells identified at an early stage can be easily treated and treatment is usually very effective.

Abnormal results are reported in two different ways:

• Low grade or borderline cell changes (also called low grade dyskaryosis)

• High grade cell changes which are moderate or severe (also called high grade dyskaryosis).

Dyskaryosis is a medical term to describe cell changes which could develop to be cancerous.


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