- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Press Releases
Mike Hedges AM welcomes news that Improved cervical & bowel cancer screening tests to be introduced
More accurate and user-friendly tests for cervical cancer and bowel cancer screening are to be introduced in Wales, in a bid to save more lives, Welsh Labour’s Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans, has announced.
Mike said… ‘This enhanced screening program will lead to lives being saved and is to be greatly welcomed! I would urge all people to take up the enhanced screening schemes.’
Currently women are screened for the potential early signs that could lead to cervical cancer through a process known as cytology – the viewing of cells through a microscope in order to identify abnormalities. In future, women will be screened for the main cause of cervical cancer instead – high risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV). Under the new arrangements, women will continue to receive what is commonly known as a smear test but the sample will then be tested for HR-HPV.
HR-HPV causes almost 100% of cervical cancers and so testing for HR-HPV will save more lives by determining a woman’s risk earlier. If a woman who is tested does not have HR-HPV, her chances of developing cervical cancer within five years are very small and are lower than a negative result from looking for cell abnormalities.
A pilot programme reaching around 20% of women will roll out across Wales from April 2017, with full roll-out expected to start in 2018/19.
An improved test for bowel cancer screening is also set to be introduced. People can sometimes find the current test – known as guiac faecal occult blood test (gFOBt) – difficult and off-putting. This is because it involves collecting two stool samples on three separate days.
In future, faecal Immunochemical testing (FIT) will be used in Wales instead. FIT is a more accurate test which will mean more cancers are detected. The new test is far easier to carry out at home because only a single stool sample is required, which is likely to increase uptake.
The introduction of FIT within the bowel screening programme is expected to start during 2018/19.