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Scottish cervical screening age to rise to 25

Cervical screening age will go back up to 25 years old for women in Scotland following reports that screening in younger women is “ineffective”.

During the past year, the UK National Screening Committee (NSC) has re-examined the evidence for screening women under the age of 25 for cervical cancer.

It concluded cervical screening “is not effective” in women under the age of 25 and can cause anxiety in women of this age in undergoing further tests “for no reason”.

Jess Harris, Cancer Research UK's health information manager, said the announcement was “good news” for women.

She claimed most changes picked up by cervical screening in women under the age of 25 “mostly clear up on their own”.

The raising of the cervical screening age from 20 years old to 25 years old will bring Scotland into line with current practice in England and Northern Ireland.

The UK NSC also advised women over 50 years old - who are routinely called for screening - should be invited every five years for cervical screening rather than every three years and that the upper threshold of cervical screening to rise to 64 years of age.

The Scottish Government is expected to fully implement the recommendations from 2015, when the first cohort of girls vaccinated with the HPV vaccination reach screening age.

Minister for Public Health in Scotland Michael Matheson said the UK NSC recommendations “reflected” the recommendations of the Expert Group in Scotland in reviewing the age range and frequency of screening within the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme.