World Cancer Day: Women urged to get screened for cervical cancer

Scientist looking through microscope Image copyright Thinkstock

Health Secretary Shona Robison has marked World Cancer Day by urging women to get screened for cervical cancer in a campaign to boost survival rates.

Ms Robison said strides had been made over the past year to help reduce cases of cancer.

Overall cancer mortality rates have decreased by 14% in males and 6% in females in the last 10 years.

However, the death rate from cancer of the liver has increased by 46% in men over the same period.

Ms Robison underlined the Scottish government's focus on fighting the disease through "awareness and action".

Image caption Health Secretary Shona Robison said more people in Scotland are suriving cancer than ever before

She said: "It's vital that we continue to reach people with the message that cancer isn't what it used to be in Scotland.

"We know that fear of cancer can result in people delaying visiting their GP with potential symptoms or attending screening.

"Only by telling the more positive side of the story can we start to change people's views that through innovation and investment, more people in Scotland are surviving cancer than ever before.

"The Scottish government's £100m cancer strategy is our commitment to improving outcomes over the next five to 10 years, focusing on specific actions to help prevent cancer, diagnose people more quickly and deliver even better care and treatment."

Image copyright Thinkstock

Cancer in Scotland: The statistics

  • Overall cancer mortality rates have decreased by 14% in males and 6% in females in the last 10 years.
  • In men, the largest falls in mortality among the top 10 causes of death from cancer have been in stomach, lung and colorectal cancer (36%, 23% and 21% respectively).
  • Death rates from prostate cancer, the most frequently diagnosed cancer in males, have decreased by 5% over the 10 years to 2015.
  • The death rate from cancer of the liver has increased by 46% in men over the last 10 years.
  • For women, the largest falls in mortality rates among the top 10 causes of death from cancer were observed in breast, ovarian and oesophageal cancer (21%, 14% and 13% respectively).
  • Death rates from breast cancer, the most frequently-diagnosed cancer in females, have decreased by 21% in spite of the increase in incidence of female breast cancer.
  • Cervical cancer deaths have decreased by 14% over the same period, in keeping with a longer-term trend.

Figures from

The Scottish government has joined forces with Cancer Research UK to launch its 'Turn the Big C into a wee c' campaign.

It aims to change the way cancer is viewed in Scotland in a bid to reduce fear around the disease.

The government says it has invested £50m in radiotherapy services over five years and recruited an additional 100 radiotherapy specialists.

Ms Robison added: "Encouraging people to present earlier with potential cancer symptoms, and attend screening when invited, also goes hand-in-hand with boosting survival rates - and next week we'll be launching a new drive to encourage more women aged 25-35 to attend their smear tests.

"On this day of action, I'd encourage people across Scotland to play their part in helping us drive forward Scotland's 'wee c' vision. The earlier you come forward to get checked or screened, the better. It could save your life."

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Scottish Labour said more must be done to tackle "Scotland's biggest killer" - especially in the poorest communities.

The party's health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: "The sad, unacceptable reality is that in Scotland you are less likely to get diagnosed and less likely to survive cancer if you come from a poorer background.

"In Scotland, the standards cancer patients have been told they can expect - the time they wait from referral on suspicion of cancer to treatment - have not been met for almost four years now.

"We know what can be achieved by delivering bold and radical policy - when Scottish Labour was in government we led the way in the UK with action on causes of cancer by introducing the smoking ban.

"Tackling obesity is the next crucial step in the fight against cancer, and we back Cancer Research UK's calls for restrictions on unhealthy supermarket promotions.

"But Scottish Labour also want to see game-changing investment in after-school sport in Scotland. That intervention would give an average of £100,000 to every secondary school as an investment in the long-term health of the nation.

"With Scotland weighing in as the heaviest of UK nations there is a clear need for changes in behaviour, policy and legislation, to change the country's cancer trend.

"That is something I hope the Scottish Parliament can support regardless of party."

Related Topics