Cervical Screening

Cervical Screening

What is cervical check?
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 cervical screening?
Cervical screening tests women for changes in the cells of the cervix (neck of the womb) using a smear test.

What is a smear test?
A smear test is a simple procedure where a smeartaker (doctor or nurse) takes a sample of cells from the cervix (neck of the womb) to look for early changes.
The earlier abnormal cell changes are found, the easier they are to treat. If these cells are not found and treated, they could become cancerous.

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.

How to have a smear test?
If you are aged 25 to 60 years of age and have never had a CervicalCheck smear test, you may simply make an appointment with a registered smeartaker doctor or nurse. You will be asked during your appointment to provide your consent to participate in CervicalCheck.

After your first CervicalCheck smear test, the programme will write to you advising you of your recommended next step.

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 Cervical Check – The National Cervical Screening Programme.
• They sign the Cervical Cytology Form.
• Programme screening intervals are respected (see further detail below).

In addition: 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.

How of‍ten should I have a smear test?
After the first smear test, women aged 25 to 44 should have a smear test every three years. Women aged 45 to 60 should have a free smear test every five years once they have had two ‘no abnormality detected’ smear test results at three yearly intervals.

Once part of the programme, CervicalCheck will advise you when your next free smear test is due. If you have any unusual or irregular vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge before your next smear test is due, you should contact your GP (family doctor) immediately.

Where can I have a smear test?
You can choose to have a free smear test from any smeartaker (doctor or nurse) registered with CervicalCheck. Many GP practices and clinics have a choice of a male or a female smeartaker.

For details of registered smeartakers, contact CervicalCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or visit the Find a smeartaker – doctor page. Please have your Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.) with you when you go to have your smear test.

Can I choose the smeartaker (doctor or practice nurse) who will take my smear test?
Yes. CervicalCheck has registered over 4,150 smeartakers in GP practices, Women’s Health, Family Planning and Well Woman Clinics nationwide. In many registered practices and clinics, women have the choice of attending a doctor or practice nurse for their free smear test. In addition, many can offer a choice between a female or male smeartaker.

How is a smear test taken?
A smear test takes less than five minutes. It may be slightly uncomfortable but should not be painful. You may lie on your side or on your back for your smear test. The doctor or nurse taking the test will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to hold it open. The cervix is the area where the top of the vagina leads to the uterus (womb0. The doctor or nurse will use a small, specialised brush to gently remove a sample of cells from the cervix. This sample is sent to the laboratory to be checked.

RESULTS

CervicalCheck will send you a letter about your results within four weeks of your smear test. The result of your test will also be available from your smeartaker.
For more information, please visit www.cervicalcheck.ie

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