Fewer Scottish women are attending smear tests according to new figures which show one in 4 women failed to undergo vital cervical cancer checks.
Campaigners have raised concerns that only 76 per cent of the 1.5 million eligible women in Scotland had been screened, despite evidence there could be a 21 per cent reduction in incidences in a year if screening coverage could reach 85 per cent.
In Scotland, women aged between 20 and 60 are offered screening every three years to spot abnormalities early.
The five year uptake has been falling since 2001 when 86.5 per cent of women were tested, bar 2009 when there was a spike in attendance after the high profile death of Big Brother contestant Jade Goody.
Robert Music, chief executive of the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Cervical cancer is a preventable disease and we cannot afford for screening uptake to keep falling.”
The charity has called for a focus on targeting older women as figures highlighted a downwards trend in screening among 50 to 60-year-olds
Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “The earlier a cancer is detected the easier it is to treat. We know that screening is the best way to detect cervical cancer at its earliest stage.”
The age for routine screening will rise to 25 in June.