Freephone information line: 1800 45 45 55

Extension of HPV testing as part of CervicalCheck

(01 May 2015)

A smear test looks for changes in the cells of the cervix before they become cancer. While most smear test results are normal, some tests show changes in the cells of the cervix. Most of these changes are caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV is a common virus that most people have at some point in their lives. There are over 100 different types of HPV virus. Some HPV types can cause cell changes in the cervix (neck of the womb). HPV is usually cleared by the body’s immune system. If the HPV infection does not clear up on its own, there is a greater risk of developing cervical cell changes which may need treatment.

Cell changes found by a smear test are classed as either low grade or high grade. The earlier cell changes are found, the easier they are to treat.

Low grade cell changes are common and most clear up on their own. Up to now women with persistent low grade cell changes have had more frequent smear tests. From May 2015, smear test samples that show low grade changes will automatically be tested for certain types of HPV by the laboratory. The doctor or nurse will not know at the time of the smear test appointment if a sample will be HPV tested or not as only smear tests showing low grade cell changes will be HPV tested.

The HPV test will help to decide if a woman can stay in routine screening, with a smear test every three or five years depending on her age, or if she should be referred to a colposcopy clinic for further examination.

A colposcopy examination is free of charge and is carried out in a hospital outpatient clinic.

HPV testing as part of CervicalCheck is an important development in cervical screening. HPV testing will help to avoid unnecessary smear tests for some women while ensuring earlier diagnosis and treatment where necessary, for others.

Women can discuss HPV and HPV testing in relation to cervical screening with their doctor or nurse when they attend for a smear test appointment.

The factsheet HPV and cervical screening provides infomation that may be dowloaded and printed.

Is cuid den tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Scagthástála é CervicalCheck
Bosca Oifig Phoist 161, Luimneach
Saorghlao 1800 45 45 55
CervicalCheck is part of the National Cancer Screening Service
PO Box 161 Limerick
Freephone 1800 45 45 55

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Is cuid den Rannóg Sláinte agus Folláine i bhFeidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte í an tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Scagthástála. Cuimsíonn sí BreastCheck – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Cíoch, CervicalCheck – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Ceirbheacs, BowelScreen – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Putóige agus Diabetic RetinaScreen – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Reitiní do Dhiaibéitigh.

The National Screening Service is part of the Health and Wellbeing Division of the Health Service Executive. It encompasses BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme, CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme, BowelScreen – The National Bowel Screening Programme and Diabetic RetinaScreen – The National Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme.