Cervical Screening (Smear Tests)
Cervical screening is a method of preventing cervical cancer by detecting abnormal cells in the cervix (lower part of the womb). Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, but it is a test to check the health of the cervix.
Most women's test results show that everything is normal. But for one in 20 women, the test will show some changes in the cells of the cervix.
In Ireland about 200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. It is the second most common female cancer in Europe.
HSE - Cervical Screening
The why, when & how guide to cervical screening
CervicalCheck - The National Cervical Screening Programme provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60. A smear test is a simple procedure that only takes minutes and is the most effective way to detect changes in the cells of the cervix.
The HPV vaccine will protect girls from developing cervical cancer when they are adults and is available free of charge from the HSE.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has extended the national HPV vaccination programme since September 2011. We continue to target all girls in 1st year of second level schools in a school based programme to ensure high vaccine uptake. In addition there is also a catch up programme for all girls who are in 6th year of second level school in September 2012. This will be repeated in September 2013 which will result in all unvaccinated girls in the senior cycle of second level schools being offered HPV vaccine.
Vaccines are in the most part given to girls in second-level schools by HSE immunisation teams, with some girls being invited to special clinics for their vaccine.
All girls require three doses of vaccine with a two month interval between the 1st and 2nd dose and a four month interval between the 2nd and 3rd doses.
The programme aims to achieve a high uptake of over 80% for a completed three dose vaccine course
What is Human papilloma virus (HPV)?
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name of a family of viruses that affect the skin and the moist membranes that line your body, such as those in your cervix, anus, mouth and throat. These membranes are called the mucosa.
There are more than 100 different types of HPV viruses, with about 40 types affecting the genital area. These are classed as high risk and low risk.
How you get HPV?
Types of HPV that affect the skin can be passed on by skin contact with an affected person. The types of HPV that affect the mouth and throat can be passed on through kissing. Genital HPV is usually spread through intimate, skin to skin, contact during sex. You can have the genital HPV virus for years and not have any sign of it.
How HPV can cause cervical cancer?
Most HPV infections are harmless or cause genital warts, however some types can cause cervical cancer. Most HPV infections clear up by themselves, but in some people the infection can last a long time. HPV infects the cells of the surface of the cervix where it can stay for many years without you knowing.
The HPV virus can damage these cells leading to changes in their appearance. Over time, these changes can develop into cervical cancer. The purpose of cervical screening (testing) is to detect these changes, which, if picked up early enough, can be treated to prevent cancer happening. If they are left untreated, cancer can develop and may lead to serious illness and death.
HPV Facts and information about the HPV programme
HSE - HPV
Why, how and when is the vaccination given and what are the side effects
Breast cancer is the most common female cancer in Ireland. About 2,700 women get breast cancer in Ireland each year. Most of them (8 out of 10) are over 50, but younger women, and in rare cases men, can also get breast cancer.
BreastCheck is a Government-funded programme providing breast screening and invites women aged 50 to 64 for a free mammogram on an area-by-area basis every two years. The aim of BreastCheck is to reduce deaths from breast cancer by finding and treating the disease at an early stage.
HSE - Breast Cancer Information
Symtpoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention & screening information
These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice