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Let’s Get Serious About Preventing Cervical Cancer - Press Release

(26 Jan 2018)

Today, 26th January 2018, Minister Catherine Byrne launched the Pearl of Wisdom campaign on behalf of CervicalCheck (The National Cervical Screening Programme) and the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA). European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week takes place from 28th January-3rd February. During this week, CervicalCheck is encouraging all women aged between 25-60 to have their cervical screening test (smear test) and not to become complacent.

Launching the campaign, Minister Catherine Byrne said “This European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, I want to ask women to take good care of themselves and make sure to get their smear test.  It's quick, and it's free, and it could honestly save your life.  We have one of the best cervical cancer screening programmes in the world - please take advantage of it and get the test.

“CervicalCheck has screened more than a million women in the 10 years since the free nationwide service began.  Regular screening gives the best chance of detecting changes at an early stage, and we know that early treatment gives women the best outcome against cervical cancer.

“I know that women over 50 are less likely to get a smear test.  It's still important though, even if you've reached menopause and your family is complete.  I know myself it can be hard to find time and it's easy to make excuses, but I'm asking women to make the appointment and put your mind at ease.”

Professor Grainne Flannelly, Clinical Director of CervicalCheck said “Today we have an opportunity to share the really good news that CervicalCheck has reached the target of 80 percent coverage. This means that 80% of women have had a smear test in the last five years.  In addition it is encouraging to see that Irish cervical cancer rates have been reducing by 7% per year since 2010, according to the latest National Cancer Registry figures. 

Professor Flannelly emphasised “we must not be complacent, inequalities still exist. Cervical cancer rates are higher in areas of deprivation and one in four women over 45 are not up to date with their cervical screening test (smear).”

Professor Flannelly also said “maintaining regular cervical screening gives the best chance of detecting changes in the cervix which can be treated before cervical cancer develops. During this week we call on all women between 25 and 60 years to make sure to check when their next test is due and make sure they participate in this valuable programme”. 

Dr Caitriona Henchion, Clinical Director at the IFPA said “the first group of women who have been vaccinated against HPV are due to celebrate their 25th birthday this year. With this group of women entering the cervical screening programme it could really start the countdown to the elimination of cervical cancer.” However she added that to make this happen all women approaching the age of 25, who have had the HPV vaccination, must also register and attend for a cervical screening test (smear) to have the best chance against cervical cancer.

Women aged between 25 and 60 can check that they are on the register, when their next test is due, and change their address online at or by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55.


Media Queries

Contact; Noreen Turley----  087 400 2126

Tom Fitzpatrick  087289 5685

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.