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Updates to cervical screening programme announced

The frequency of cervical screening will soon be changed in Scotland and Wales. 

Earlier this year the Welsh government announced that in line with national guidelines, the age range and frequency of the Scottish and Welsh screening programme will change. 

Presently, all women aged 20-64 are invited for screening every three years.

However from September 2013 women will not be invited for a smear test until they reach 25, and women aged between 50-64 will be invited every five years rather than three years in Wales. 

The changes will be introduced in Scotland from 2015 to follow recommendations made by the National Screening Committee, which sets UK policy. 

Last year the committee concluded that screening women under the age of 25 is not effective at preventing cervical cancer.

It also said there is no evidence to suggest that women over the age of 50 need to be screened more frequently than every five years.

Dr Rosemary Fox, director of the Screening Division of Public Health Wales, said:

 “As usual, women will receive a letter inviting them to make an appointment for a smear test when they are due for screening, and should act on that as soon as possible.  Women need to take no other action as a result of the changes.

“However, if women who are not due for screening develop symptoms that they are concerned about, they should make an appointment with their GP and not wait for their next smear test.”

The changes to be introduced in Wales from 1 September mean that from that date, women born after 1 September 1993 should not expect to be invited for screening until they are at least 24 years and six months old.  Those aged under 25 who have already been screened will continue to receive three-yearly invitations.