The Welsh government has announced plans for more accurate and user-friendly tests for cervical cancer and bowel cancer screening in a bid to save more lives.
In the current system, women are screened for the potential early signs that could lead to cervical cancer by looking at cells to identify any abnormalities. In future, women will continue to receive a smear test, but will instead be screened for the main cause of cervical cancer - high risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV).
HR-HPV causes almost 100 percent of cervical cancers and so testing for the virus will save more lives by determining a woman's risk at a much earlier stage, noted Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans.
"There will be more appropriate referrals to healthcare services, resulting in quicker treatment, and women will be discharged back to routine screening more quickly, avoiding lengthy periods of annual surveillance" she said.
A pilot programme involving around 20 percent of women will roll out across Wales from April next year, with full roll-out of the new screening arrangements expected to start in 2018/19.
The minister also unveiled plans for an improved bowel cancer test that is more accurate than the current faecal occult blood test and easier to carry out at home, as it involves just one stool sample as opposed to three.
Introduction of the updated bowel screening programme with the new faecal Immunochemical test (FIT) is expected to start during 2018/19.
"For our screening programmes to reach their full potential, uptake needs to increase and we must continue to invest in more accurate and accessible tests. This is why I am pleased to confirm that we will be implementing better and more user-friendly testing for both cervical cancer screening and bowel cancer screening," noted Evans.