While more women than ever avail of free cervical screening, rates uneven across counties and ages
While more women in Ireland than ever are availing of free cervical screening, rates are uneven across counties and ages, according to the programme report of CervicalCheck - The National Cervical Screening Programme on its seventh year of operation.
While the number of women screened through CervicalCheck is at its highest since the programme began in 2008, women are less likely to attend for cervical screening in some counties. These include Clare, Kilkenny, Laois, Monaghan, Offaly and Roscommon. Women over the age of fifty are also less likely to attend for screening than younger women.
Dr Grainne Flannelly, Clinical Director of CervicalCheck, stated: “This report highlights how CervicalCheck is going from strength to strength, with almost 79% of the 1.2 million eligible women availing of cervical screening. However, we want to increase this even further to 80%, especially in counties where uptake is lower and among older women.”
Dr Flannelly added: “Cervical cancer takes a long time to develop and often has no symptoms, which is why regular screening is crucial. We urge all women aged 25 to 60 to arrange their first smear test if they’ve never done so, or to check when their next free smear test is due - it’s free, it only takes a few minutes and it could save your life.”
The CervicalCheck Programme Report 2014/15 shows that cervical screening coverage increased during this period from 77% to 78.7%. A total of 281,928 women were screened, most of whom (83%) were aged 25-49. 13% were aged between 50 and 60. The vast majority (90%) of screening results for satisfactory tests were normal. 8.2% of tests showed low-grade abnormalities, while 1.7% had high-grade abnormalities.
16,549 women were referred to colposcopy services for investigation and treatment. 6,560 treatments were carried out for changes that otherwise would not have been detected, reducing the risk of cervical cancer by 90% for those women. The report also shows that waiting time targets for colposcopy were exceeded for all categories of referral.
In addition, the report highlights further improvements in CervicalCheck’s performance as a result of the commencement of HPV testing for women with low-grade abnormalities (HPV triage) in May 2015.
The CervicalCheck Programme Report 2014/15 is available to view or download here.