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RCOG responds to cervical screening changes in Wales

News 7 January 2022

This week, Cervical Screening Wales announced that the interval between cervical screenings will be increased from three to five years for women and people aged 25-49, where human papillomavirus (HPV) is not found. 

Responding to the news, Miss Theresa Freeman-Wang, consultant gynaecologist & President of the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: 

“We understand that people are concerned about the changes to cervical screening in Wales so we want to reassure them that this change is safe and is due to medical advancements in screening. 

“England, Scotland, and Wales and many other countries now use human papillomavirus (HPV) primary screening, which is much better at assessing risk than previous methods. HPV testing is more sensitive and accurate, so changes are picked up earlier. Studies have confirmed that if someone is HPV negative (i.e HPV is not present in the screen test) intervals between tests can very safely be increased from three to five years. 

“If HPV is present, then the programme will automatically look for any abnormal cells. If there are no abnormalities, the woman will be advised to have a repeat screen test in a year. If the HPV remains present over three successive years or if abnormal cells are detected at any stage, she will be referred for a more detailed screening examination called a colposcopy. 

“It’s important that with any change like this, there is clear information available to explain what these changes mean. 

“We have an effective cervical screening programme in the UK that has significantly reduced the number of cases and deaths from this preventable cancer. 

“HPV vaccination along with cervical screening are important tools that help prevent and protect against cervical cancer. Again, the evidence from studies in Scotland, published in the Lancet show the value of the UK schools HPV vaccine programme and the importance of regular screening.”

“HPV screening every 5 years is safe and to be fully effective it is vital that women take up the invitation for cervical screening when called.” 

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)7740 175342 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk.
Notes to editor