Plans to introduce more accurate and user-friendly tests to detect both cervical and bowel cancer in Wales have been welcomed by Thompsons Solicitors.

Welsh women aged 25-64 are currently invited for a test to detect abnormal cells that may develop into cervical cancer. However, from April 2017, a pilot programme will see around 20 per cent of women offered a revised cervical cancer screening that detects high-risk human papillomaviruses (HR-HPVs) – the main cause of cervical cancer – before they receive the standard smear test.

The aim is to save more lives by identifying risks sooner. It is expected to be rolled out nationwide in 2018/19.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Wales but, if detected early, it’s also one of the most treatable. Now a simpler and more accurate bowel cancer test, also set to be introduced in 2018/19, will see people required to provide one faeces sample instead of three over as many days.

More than 400,000 men and women are routinely tested each year in Wales as part of the breast, cervical and bowel cancer screening programmes. However Rebecca Evans, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Social Services and Public Health, is concerned at the difference in the uptake of public health screening programmes between those living in the most and least affluent areas.

It is hoped that this new and simpler screening process will help increase uptake levels.

As of 2014, nine cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed every day in the UK. Survival rates are improving and have increased during the last 40 years.

“The Welsh Government’s decision to pilot these new tests is positive news,” said Cathryn Davies, senior clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons’ Cardiff office.

“Tests that are able to detect devastating illnesses at the earliest opportunity are key to ensuring patients receive prompt treatment, as that way they have the best chances of survival.

“With the programme expected to roll out nationally in just a year’s time, public education about these changes and the importance of visiting your GP for a cancer screening, is key. It’s also vital that adequate funding is provided to ensure the NHS is able to cope with increased demand should the uptake numbers grow.”