A NEW campaign has been launched urging people who are eligible for a smear test to attend when invited.

The Scottish Government campaign encourages people not to ignore their invite – even if they think everything is fine – and highlights that two people die from cervical cancer in the UK every day.

The campaign also provides tips and reassurance around the appointment to help overcome barriers to attending, such as embarrassment or worry.

Public Health Minister Maree Todd said: “A five-minute smear test could save your life. Even if you expect everything is fine, it’s important not to ignore your invite, as the test can help stop cervical cancer before it starts.

“The test screens for human papillomavirus (HPV), the main cause of cervical cancer, and helps ensure cell changes are identified and treated earlier.

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“This campaign has been developed to encourage more eligible people to attend and ultimately save more lives.

“It’s understandable some may feel anxious about the smear test itself, but information and advice are available.”

The number of tests carried out for cervical cancer dropped by 45% last year, after the checks were paused during the Covid-19 pandemic. Public Health Scotland data showed that 174,299 smear tests were completed in 2020/21 - down from 318,727 the previous year.

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a temporary pause in the cervical screening programme from March to June 2020. The Scottish Government earlier announced the medical records of almost 200,000 women who were permanently removed from the cervical screening list would be checked in the wake of the death of a woman who was “wrongly excluded” and went on to develop cancer.