Cervical screening campaign

People urged to attend smear test.

Those eligible for cervical screening are being urged to go for a smear test when invited as part of a nationwide campaign.

With two people dying from cervical cancer in the UK every day, the Scottish Government campaign encourages people not to ignore their invite – even if they expect everything is fine. 

Cervical cancer is largely preventable and screening is the best way to protect against the disease, yet one in three women in Scotland still don’t go for the five-minute smear test that can stop cervical cancer before it starts.

The campaign also provides tips and reassurance around the appointment to help people overcome barriers to attending, such as embarrassment or worry.

Minister for Public Health Maree Todd said:

“A five-minute smear test could save your life.  Even if you expect everything is fine, it’s important not to ignore your invite, as the test can help stop cervical cancer before it starts.

“The test screens for human papillomavirus (HPV), the main cause of cervical cancer, and helps ensure cell changes are identified and treated earlier.   

“This campaign has been developed to encourage more eligible people to attend and ultimately save more lives.  It’s understandable some may feel anxious about the smear test itself, but information and advice are available to help make your appointment easier.”

Laura McAdam, 36, from Ayrshire, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016, at the age of 31.

Two years earlier, the result of Laura’s regular smear test had come back showing cell changes. In order to be monitored more closely, Laura attended check-up appointments every six months and when the results kept showing cell changes, she underwent a colposcopy - a procedure used to look at the cervix - in November 2016.

During the procedure Laura’s doctor took a biopsy and a week later, Laura was given her cervical cancer diagnosis.

In January 2017, Laura underwent a hysterectomy.  As the affected area was bigger than what the consultant had expected, she was scheduled in for a five-week course of precautionary chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

However, a tear in Laura’s bladder was detected shortly before the course was meant to start and her doctors decided to cancel the treatment.  Following a bladder operation, Laura attends scans every six months to closely monitor her recovery.

Having been diagnosed as a result of screening, Laura is fully aware of the importance of early detection and what a huge difference it can make. She said:

“I was diagnosed early thanks to attending a regular smear test and I’m so grateful that my cell changes were picked up early enough - it saved my life. I had no symptoms whatsoever before that, so I know first-hand how important it is to attend screenings, even if nothing seems wrong.

“I had a few niggly back pains as a result of the bladder operation, but other than that I feel absolutely fine now.

“All the hospital staff have been fantastic throughout all this and I can’t thank them enough for their care.”

For further information, visit getcheckedearly.org


To view the new campaign https://youtu.be/li-g7LHJgrU

Images of Laura McAdam are available upon request.

Cervical screening is offered to anyone with a cervix aged between 25 and 64.  The test checks the cervix for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes 99% of cervical cancers, but has no symptoms.

Uptake of cervical screening in Scotland has declined in recent years.  In 20/21, uptake amongst those eligible was 69.3%, compared to 71.2% the previous year and 73.1% attending in 2018/19.


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