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McInnes urges North East cancer test rethink

October 31, 2008 3:01 PM

North East Scotland LibDem MSP Alison McInnes has today (Friday 31st October) reacted with dismay to news that a shrinking proportion of women in the North East are taking the cervical smear test.

In 2006-2007, 81.3% of women eligible to take the test in Tayside did so. In 2007-2008, the figure fell to 80%.

Mrs McInnes said, "This marked and quite sudden decline is clearly a cause for concern. Figures for the whole of Scotland are the worst for a decade.

"In the first instance we must reiterate the importance of the smear test, which is one of the most successful health screening programmes there is. A smear test can diagnose cervical cancers at a very early stage meaning that they can be completely cured with simple treatment.

"Despite this, cervical cancer remains the second most common cancer in women under the age of 35 and a reduction in the screening programme will mean an increase in the number of women whose cancer develops to a more advanced and harder to treat stage.

"It is very important that health boards look at the procedures by which women are called for their smear tests. Letters are now sent out from a central point which may perhaps appear impersonal and therefore less urgent. We must ensure that nothing contributes to deterring women from taking the test."

Mrs McInnes has written to NHS Tayside and to NHS Grampian to find out what plans are in place to improve take up of the tests.

Here in Dundee, LibDem City Council Group Leader, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, added, "I am pleased that Alison McInnes has taken action to highlight this worrying trend. It is important that NHS Tayside and other NHS Boards take all steps possible to increase take up of smear tests."

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