Wishart raises prospect of change to future cervical cancer screening strategy

In a question to the Minister for Women’s Health, Scottish Liberal Democrat and Shetland MSP, Beatrice Wishart, has praised the success of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and asked the Scottish Government for its plans to ensure high uptake for future screenings. Wishart raised the prospect that with the success of the HPV vaccine the screening strategy could be adapted.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust state that 1 in 3 do not attend their cervical screening appointment when invited. 220,000 women and people with a cervix are told they have cervical cell changes every year. Many more receive a diagnosis of human papillomavirus (HPV), but those receiving the news are often confused, ashamed, and scared.

Earlier this year Wishart supported Cervical Cancer Prevention Week which ran between17th-23rd January. In November 2021 Ms Wishart highlighted Shetland’s screening stats fell to 79.2% from 80.1% in annual data provided by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. These statistics came at the same time as a study showed that the HPV vaccine cuts cervical cancer by nearly 90%.

After the question session Ms Wishart said:

“The HPV vaccine appears to be extremely effective in reducing incidence of cancer. I would encourage everyone who is eligible to get the HPV vaccine to do so.

“As we progress with the vaccine programme the Scottish Government will need to ensure there is a strategy in place to communicate any changes in the screening programme. It could be the case that some targeted groups are screened less often than others.

“Dual health messaging may prove to be problematic and I would urge the Scottish Government to get to work on that messaging now so that risks to health are minimised.”



Notes to Editors

You can see Ms Wishart’s question here.

UK Vaccination programme results: The vaccine reduced cervical cancer incidence by 34% in those who received it aged 16 to 18, by 62% if aged 14 to 16 and by 90% in those who were vaccinated aged 12 to 13 - link here.

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