Watch this to find out more about CervicalCheck
What is CervicalCheck?
CervicalCheck - The National Cervical Screening Programme is a quality assured, organised and population-based screening programme that is managed by the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS). The programme provides free cervical screening (smear tests) to women aged 25 to 60 and is operated in line with best international practice. The programme is funded by the Department of Health and Children.
What is the purpose of cervical screening?
A smear test (sometimes called a pap test) can detect changes in the cells of the cervix (neck of the womb). The earlier abnormal cell changes are found, the easier they are to treat.
There are no costs to a woman involved in having a smear test. CervicalCheck provides free cervical screening to women aged 25 to 60 years. This covers all aspects of the test from making the appointment, the initial consultation, the smear test, sending the sample to the laboratory (postage), the smear test result, follow-up and appropriate consultation if necessary.
Is cervical screening effective?
Cervical screening is internationally accepted as a preventative health measure. While it is recognised that no screening test is 100 per cent accurate, cervical screening is the most effective method of reducing a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
Who is eligible for screening?
Woman aged 25 to 60 who live in Ireland are eligible to have a free smear test. CervicalCheck has developed a register (list) of eligible women nationwide aged 25 to 60 through up-to-date information received from the Department of Social Protection.
CervicalCheck sends an invitation by post to women on this list who have never had a free CervicalCheck smear test.
Women who have already had a CervicalCheck smear test will be sent a letter to let them know when their next smear test is due.
Women can have a free CervicalCheck smear test providing:
- They attend a smeartaker (a doctor or practice nurse) who is registered with CervicalCheck - The National Cervical Screening Programme
- They sign the Cervical Cytology Form
- Programme screening intervals are respected (see further detail below)
- If the result of a woman’s previous smear test recommends further screening, she is eligible for a free smear test
- The programme supports any woman who has received a recommendation for a post-colposcopy follow-up smear test
What are the recommended screening intervals?
- Women aged 25 to 44 will be offered a free smear test every three years.
- Women aged 45 to 60 will be offered a free smear test every five years.
- Regardless of the age of a woman when she has her first CervicalCheck smear test, she needs to have two normal smear test results - three years apart, before moving to a five year screening interval.
- A woman may also be advised by CervicalCheck to have additional smear tests if further investigation is needed, as recommended by the programme.
How are smear test results provided to women?
Doctors receive the clinical results from the laboratories. CervicalCheck writes to women advising that their smear test results are available from their smeartaker (doctor or practice nurse) and also advising of the next recommended step for them within the screening programme. The majority of smear test reults are negative or normal.
How are women's details registered and stored?
The woman’s details are registered and stored confidentially on the Cervical Screening Register (CSR). This is a secure, centrally located, electronic database that contains a woman’s full demographic details including name, address, date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.). The CSR also records a woman’s screening history and results of her smear tests, colposcopy procedures and any biopsies taken at a colposcopy clinic.
To maintain confidentiality, each woman has a unique identification number on the register. Information on the CSR will be shared only with the smeartaker, the laboratory, colposcopy clinic and the National Cancer Registry.
Where is the data sourced?
CervicalCheck has developed a Cervical Screening Register (CSR) of eligible women aged 25 to 60 through information received from the Department of Social and Family Affairs, self registration by women, doctors, cytology laboratories and colposcopy clinics. Women are invited for screening based on age, across the age range 25 to 60 years. The CSR can identify women in age cohorts based on their date of birth, allowing the programme to target lower uptake age groups if needed.
What quality assurance measures are in place?
The NCSS Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Cervical Screening cover all steps in the cervical screening pathway. They have been developed by expert groups and reviewed by international experts. The NCSS QA Committee for Cervical Screening monitors the implementation of these guidelines.
Is there a feedback or complaints procedure?
The programme has a feedback and complaints handling system in place that will ensure fair and transparent consideration and investigation.
Providing feedback or making a complaint can be done verbally through the Freephone information number (1800 45 45 55) or in writing to the programme office. All communications will be followed up in a timely fashion. CervicalCheck recognises that a good feedback and complaints handling system contributes to a higher quality service by highlighting shortcomings so that identified areas of the programme can be improved.
CervicalCheck - The National Cervical Screening Programme
PO BOX 161