Date lodged: 14 February 2019
To ask the Scottish Government in what circumstances a woman aged (a) under 25 and (b) over 65 can request an NHS smear test.
Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 27 February 2019
The Scottish Government, along with the rest of the UK is advised on all aspects of screening by the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) an independent expert advisory group. The UK NSC currently recommends that women should be screened routinely for cervical cancer between the age of 25 and 64. This recommendation was based on evidence about the effectiveness and benefits of screening women in this age range. Women younger than 25 and older than 65 cannot self-refer into the cervical screening programme. The current evidence does not support screening women out with the eligible population as this risks causing more harm than benefit.
The cervical screening test is not a test for cancer. If a woman has symptoms which could be suspicious of cancer, she should not have a cervical screening test carried out. Diagnostic tests are required and assessment of symptoms would be carried out according to the local protocol with referral to gynaecology if required. This would be regardless of age.