Health Secretary marks World Cancer Day

New campaign to encourage uptake of cervical screening launches next week

Health Secretary Shona Robison has marked World Cancer Day today by reflecting on the strides made in Scotland over the past year to help bring cancer down to size.

Ms Robison highlighted recent positive developments made across Scotland – and underlined the government’s continued focus on turning Scotland’s Big C into the ‘wee c’ through awareness and action.

Ms Robison also said a new targeted campaign to encourage more young women to attend their smear tests would be launched next week – in the latest effort to boost survival rates from cancer.

Ms Robison said:

“It’s vital that we continue to reach people with the message that cancer isn’t what it used to be in Scotland.

“We know that fear of cancer can result in people delaying visiting their GP with potential symptoms or attending screening. Only by telling the more positive side of the story can we start to change people’s views – that through innovation and investment, more people in Scotland are surviving cancer than ever before.

“The Scottish Government’s £100m cancer strategy is our commitment to improving outcomes over the next five to ten years, focusing on specific actions to help prevent cancer, diagnose people more quickly and deliver even better care and treatment.

“Encouraging people to present earlier with potential cancer symptoms, and attend screening when invited, also goes hand in hand with boosting survival rates - and next week we’ll be launching a new drive to encourage more women aged 25-35 to attend their smear tests.

“On this day of action, I’d encourage people across Scotland to play their part in helping us drive forward Scotland’s wee c vision. The earlier you come forward to get checked or screened, the better. It could save your life.”

The wee c, a partnership between The Scottish Government and Cancer Research UK, aims to change the way cancer is viewed in Scotland, in a bid to reduce fear around the disease and boost survival rates.

In the last year, we have:

  • Committed to tackling cancer with a £50m investment in radiotherapy services over five years, investing in state of the art equipment and an additional 100 radiotherapy specialists.
  • A £4 million funding commitment to two precision medicine national programmes, one of which will look at using state of the art techniques to better characterise pancreatic cancer, allowing patients to be recruited to clinical trials efficiently and quickly.
  • Invested an additional £5 million in improving access to diagnostics, including the provision of new scopes and radiology investigations for people who are suspected to have a cancer.
  • Seen 94 per cent of people who contributed to the first ever Scottish cancer patient experience survey rating their care positively.


Latest statistics show:

  • Since Detect Cancer Early began the number of people returning their bowel screening tests has risen with the largest increase among men from the most deprived quintile - 39.6% to 43%. Reference: ISD - comparing November 2010 to October 2012 and November 2013 to October 2015 (published in August 2016).
  • An increase of 8% in Stage 1 diagnoses of bowel, breast and lung cancers in Scotland in 2014/2015, compared to 2010/2011. This increases to 16.3% in the most deprived areas.
  • The percentage of patients diagnosed with the earliest stage of lung cancer (Stage I) in Scotland increasing by over a third since the Detect Cancer Early Programme began (35.8 per cent overall), and by even more amongst those living in the most deprived areas (44.1 per cent)

More information on the Detect Cancer Early Programme can be found here:

More information on Scotland’s campaign to bring cancer down to size can be found here:

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