At-home cervical cancer tests piloted in Dumfries and Galloway

A new study is taking place at the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary that is investigating the feasibility of home testing kits for cervical cancer.

They have already proved to be a success in Denmark and Australia and may be a solution to increasing test numbers in rural areas like our own.

A research team at the hospital are gearing up for a pilot scheme that could ultimately see home tests rolled out nationwide.

Dr William Forson. Credit: ITV News

Dr William Forson is an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist involved in the work. He said: "The test has moved from looking at cells to trying to look at the Virus in the sample, so by doing that we then saw an opportunity for women to collect the sample themselves rather than women doing it for them.

"We’ve ran two projects already in Dumfries running these self-samples and women have found them user-friendly and haven’t had any problems or discomfort using it.

"The validity of the test is not in question, how it will be used in the population is what we are trying to test and we are hoping that we can provide the data to inform the national conversation."

It's hoped that the option of a home test may alleviate the problem ofdefaulters – women who are offered a test but for a variety of reasons areunable or choose not to attend.

Emma Harper MSP Credit: ITV News

The numbers are significant, in Dumfries and Galloway alone there arecurrently around 6000 defaulters – a concern for local MSP and former Nurse Emma Harper who has been lobbying for home testing.

She said: "When I first found out about the Defaulters, I was really concerned because it means there are 6000 women who are not accessing early diagnosis so I love the idea of a self-test.

"I really look forward to Dumfries and Galloway being one of the pilot test sites because it will be great to test a rural place and to test the urban areas as well.

"I would really like to see how we can reduce that defaulting number from 6000 right the way down by affording women the opportunity to do a self-test at home."

Laura McAdam is also behind the push for home testing. Credit: ITV News

Many Groups including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust are also behind the push for home testing – one of their volunteers is Laura McAdam – who’s own early diagnosis of cervical cancer was crucial to her recovery.

She said: "It’s really important. I didn't show any symptoms, so if it wasn’t for the fact that I was going for my smear tests, I would never have known.

"If I hadn’t went when I did goodness knows how far along I would have been when I found out.

"If they could develop a way of testing at home I think, in my opinion 99% of women would definitely do it, because it means they can do it at their own leisure and they can do it in the comfort of their own home as and when it suits them."

Although home tests eventually form part of the efforts to fight cervical cancer, the NHS says that this is still just a pilot scheme in its initial stages and patients must still attend tests.