Vaccination and screening reduce cervical cancer risk

Rachael Hamilton MSP.
Rachael Hamilton MSP.

The Scottish Borders is ranked third in cervical screening uptake out of the 14 Scottish regional health boards.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust reported that the number of women in Scotland diagnosed with cervical cancer is at its highest for 18 years – 388. Uptake of cervical cancer screening across Scotland is 73.4%; in the Borders uptake is 77.4%.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 and women aged 25-49 are invited every three years to have a screening, but one in three women aged 25-29 do not attend.

Aberdeen University research recently concluded that the launch of a school vaccine programme against the human papilloma virus, which causes cervical cancer, has significantly reduced the number of women with abnormal smear test results far sooner than expected: for women aged 20 or 21 the figure has dropped from 1,294 in 2008-09, before the vaccine was offered to the age group, to 758 in 2013-14, a reduction of 41 per cent.

Rachael Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire said: “Firstly, let’s acknowledge the great work done in the Borders that has seen the third highest uptake in cervical screening in Scotland.

“But one in three of the most at risk age group are not attending.

“More initiatives like the vaccination programme need to considered to help improve cervical screening uptake in the Borders and across Scotland.”