Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee
Scottish Government submission of 19 May 2021
PE1863/A - Mandatory annual cancer blood test from the age of 55
Thank you for highlighting the Petition PE01863 on behalf of the public Petitions Committee regarding implementing a mandatory annual cancer blood test from the age of 55.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight that this is a very important policy area and the Scottish Government recognises the importance of an early cancer diagnosis and its impact on cancer patient outcomes.
To make the Petitions Committee aware, the Scottish Government has already taken a number of actions to continue enabling an early cancer diagnosis. Scotland’s first Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres (ECDC) are being established in NHS Fife, NHS Dumfries & Galloway and NHS Ayrshire & Arran. These person-centred fast-track diagnostic pathways will provide primary care with a new referral route for patients with non-specific symptoms suspicious of cancer. ECDCs mark a new era in Scotland’s early diagnosis efforts.
The Scottish Government monitors and considers all available evidence and recommendations from the UK National Screening Committee (NSC), an independent expert advisory group which inform decisions taken on screening programmes across the four UK nations. There is currently no single blood test that screens for different cancer types, there is some ongoing research, which the UK NSC will review to make a recommendation for population screening.
Currently in Scotland we screen for Breast, Bowel and Cervical Cancer, the Scottish Government will continue to review the advice from the UK NSC on population screening.
I hope this response reassures the Committee of the steps the Scottish Government has and will continue to take to drive an earlier diagnosis for cancer across Scotland.