Women will now only be invited for screening from age 25 – up from 20 under the old system - and will be eligible up until 64, extended from age 60.
The frequency of screening will continue to be once every three years for ages 25 to 49, whereas older women will be offered screen tests every five years. Some women over 65 may be offered further tests if their last was non-routine.
Carol Colquhoun, national co-ordinator screening programmes at Scotland’s National Services Division, said: ‘Changes have been decided based on a review of evidence about the effectiveness and benefits of screening women across age ranges.
‘Data shows that screening women below the age of 25 has little or no impact on rates of invasive cervical cancer. For women over 50, five-yearly screening offers adequate protection and women up to the age of 64 can benefit from cervical screening.’
Mary Horne, a practice nurse in Lothian, said: ‘General practice nurses have an extremely valuable role to play in ensuring that women are encouraged to attend and put at ease for this important screening process.
‘We know that many women are worried about pain and discomfort, while some feel embarrassed about the intimacy of the procedure, and even about making the appointment itself. That’s why it’s important to take time at the start to explain to the woman exactly what it going to happen and answer any questions they may have reassuring them that there is no pain involved.’
Cervical screening is thought to save approximately 5,000 lives in the UK every year.