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Live saving screening for some cancers is to be suspended to focus NHS resources on coronavirus.

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, revealed that the screening programme for breast, cervical and bowel cancers will be halted until further notice. 

Ms Sturgeon announced the latest health measure as coronavirus deaths increased in Scotland.

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She said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, however, it is important to maximise the ability of the NHS to cope over the coming weeks.”

She added: “We will restart the screening programmes we have paused as soon as we can, this is a temporary suspension and it will be reviewed after 12 weeks or earlier, if evidence suggests restarting the programme is feasible.

“However, at this moment pausing these programmes is an important way of allowing the NHS to deal with impact of Covid-19.”

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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening (ultrasound of abdomen) and Diabetic Retinopathy (Eye) Screening are also suspended.

Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer said: “The programmes will be potentially fragile due to staff absences and there are clear risks to patients in being asked to attend for screening.

"The redeployment of staff to work in other areas is also valuable as part of our national effort to tackle the effects of COVID-19.”

Tom Berry, Head of Scotland at Breast Cancer Now, the research and care charity, agreed it was necessary but said women would need support.

He said: “Until this vital service is able to resume, we would encourage women not to be alarmed but to check their breasts regularly, and to report any unusual changes to their GP. A

"nyone concerned about not being able to attend breast screening can call our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

"Our expert nurses are always just at the end of the telephone line.”

The announcement came as the First Minister revealed another six deaths in Scotland among people tested for conronavirus.

It takes the total to 47.

The number of positive coronavirus cases in Scotland increased by 170 to 1,563.

In Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS area there were 449 cases as of Monday.