Cervical Cancer (Detection)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 13th June 2013.

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Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

5. To ask the First Minister what steps the Scottish Government is taking to improve detection of cervical cancer. (S4F-01460)

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

The earlier that a cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat it. We know that screening is the best way to stop cervical cancer at its earliest stage.

Every woman in Scotland between 20 and 60 is invited to be screened for cervical cancer every three years. Information leaflets that are issued with each invitation contain information on the symptoms and give advice on seeking medical advice if the symptoms are present.

This week is cervical cancer awareness week. The message from this Government—and, I am sure, from the whole chamber—is that all eligible women in Scotland should find out more about cervical screening so that they can be as informed as possible about the benefits of such screening.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

I associate myself with the First Minister’s response: early detection is, of course, extremely important. Does the First Minister agree that securing swift follow-up treatment is also key? Unlike in England, the Scottish Government has cancer waiting targets only for initial treatment. There is evidence that patients are waiting longer for follow-up treatment, but that is not recorded. Does the First Minister believe that that hidden cancer waiting list is acceptable?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

I was hoping that on this issue—given its importance and the fact that this is cervical cancer week—the chamber could speak with one voice and Jackie Baillie could avoid seeing every issue as a potential issue for political division. The service that we are discussing should unite this chamber.

As Jackie Baillie should know, we are considering the inclusion of additional tumour groups in the detect cancer early programme. There are excellent results in terms of the cancer treatment waiting times, as Jackie Baillie also knows. For goodness’ sake, just for once let us unite around the importance of this condition and our support for the efforts of those who are providing the service.