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Latest Laois News: Women in Laois encouraged to take up CervicalCheck invitations
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Latest Laois News: Women in Laois encouraged to take up CervicalCheck invitations

As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, CervicalCheck targets Laois as one of six counties with lowest uptake of cervical screening

Women in Laois encouraged to take up CervicalCheck invitations

As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (17 – 23 January), Ireland’s national population screening programme, CervicalCheck, is encouraging women in Kilkenny to consider taking up their invitation of a cervical screen when they receive it. 

Women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 65 are invited to attend free cervical screening every three to five years, depending on their age and previous screening history. The programme’s national target coverage rate* is 80%, and the latest available figures from CervicalCheck show the five-year coverage (ending 31 March 2020) was 78.5%. In Laois coverage for the same period was 69%.

While this is still a strong level of uptake which compares well internationally, CervicalCheck would like to see more women in Laois accessing the benefits of regular cervical screening, and acting to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is typically slow growing – developing over 10 to 15 years – that is why it is important for women to consider coming for screening at regular intervals, when invited. Regular screening builds up a ‘picture’ of the health of the cervix over time, and acts to reduce a woman’s risk of cervical cancer developing. Screening aims to pick up abnormal cells at an earlier stage than when symptoms typically present and when treatments can be offered that can achieve a better outcome.

Women in Laois encouraged to take up CervicalCheck invitations
Women in Laois encouraged to take up CervicalCheck invitations

CervicalCheck Clinical Director, Dr Nóirín Russell, urged women to talk to their GP or practice nurse about whether they are eligible for screening, or if they have questions about the screening test. “Lower participation in screening increases a woman’s personal risk of developing cervical cancer and also reduces the screening programme’s impact on population health. It is very important to offer services that meet the needs of the people who are eligible, and that we address lower uptake where we find it.

“We know that certain groups – such as those in poor social circumstances; those with disabilities; members of the Traveller community; and members of the LGBT+ community – can feel excluded from using health services for many different reasons. We also know that women aged over 50 are less likely to take up their offer of screening. Or it might be that women aren’t aware that they can choose screening at any registered sample taker, and not just their own GP.”

Dr Sarah Fitzgibbon, Primary Care Clinical Advisor with CervicalCheck, said: “Some women report that they find the screening test uncomfortable; others find it a little embarrassing; some are concerned about Covid-19. We would like to let them know GPs and practice nurses can help to allay many of their fears and concerns. We’d ask these women to get in touch with their GP to discuss ways to their options in taking up their screening invitation.”

Women can book their free HPV cervical screening test with any of the 4,500 GPs or nurses registered with the HSE. Women can find a clinic near them, and check their details are correct on the register, on the HSE website at www2.hse.ie/screening-and-vaccinations/cervical-screening/where-you-can-have-a-cervical-screening-test.html

Resources are also available for women and screeners in multiple languages and formats. For example, in 2021 CervicalCheck produced culturally appropriate, multilingual video messages for migrant people. The videos are presented by doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who originally came to Ireland from another country. They explain the importance of screening; what it is and how to book a test. These videos are available in 21 languages on www.hse.ie/cervicalcheck.