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However, Prof Flannelly said the positive news was that CervicalCheck has reached the target of 80 per cent coverage overall. This means that 80 per cent 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 cent, per year, since 2010, according to the latest National Cancer Registry figures,” added Prof Flannelly.
She was speaking today at the launch of the Pearl of Wisdom campaign, which is run by CervicalCheck and the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA).
European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week takes place from 28 January-3 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 of State for Health Promotion 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.”
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 to have the best chance against cervical cancer.
Women aged between 25 and 60 can check they are on the register, when their next test is due, and change their address online at www.cervicalcheck.ie or by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55.