Cervical Cancer Awareness Week


This week is Cervical Cancer Awareness Week and our Board Member & Nurse Lizzy Kilkenny shares some useful information on Cervical Cancer and Cervical Screening below.

If you are worried or are concerned about Cervical Cancer or the emotional effects of Cancer, call us in confidence on 012866966

What is Cervical Screening?
Cervical Screening tests women for changes in the cells of the cervix. Its aim is to detect early cell changes this is the really important point as cervical cancer takes 7-12 years to develop in most cases.
Its important to note that it is not a test for cancer. It’s a test to check for abnormalities in the cells of the cervix which may lead to cancer.

Who needs a smear test?
Woman aged between 25-60 who are or have been sexually active.

HPV Virus
The HPV virus is a really common virus that effects over 80 % of sexually active adults. It is spread directly through skin to skin contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Most people have no symptoms whatsoever. The virus is usually transient & is cleared by the body’s own immune system however, certain strains particularly strains 16 & 18 are directly linked to over 70% of cervical cancers. 80% of women will have the virus at some in their life, mainly in late teens & early 20’s.Smoking reduces the body’s ability to clear the virus so it’s very important to stop smoking.
Cervical cancer can be prevented through regular test & early detection of per-cancerous changes.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in Western Europe.
90 deaths on average per annum
Over 280- (mainly young) need treatment i.e: chemotherapy and or radiotherapy
Over 6,500 women each year-require hospital treat for per-cancerous cells.

There are 3 different licensed HPV vaccines, the one used in Ireland is known as gardsil, this is recommended by both national & international bodies including World Health Organisation American Society for Clinical Oncology, The Irish Cancer Society & The Royal College of physicians Ireland.
Gardisl Has been licenced since 2006 and 690,000 vaccines have been given in Ireland to date.

How do I book a Smear Test:
The National Screening Service is responsible for: Cervical check. Women are offered a free smear test between the ages of 25-60. To check your eligibility for a smear test go on to www.cervicalcheck.ie. The service is free & your Practice Nurse or Doctor will carry out the test.

A cervical screening test (sometimes called a smear test or a pap test) is a simple procedure where a doctor or nurse takes a sample of cells from the cervix (neck of the womb) to be examined for early changes in the cells. A cervical screening test is a simple test that takes about five minutes. It may be slightly uncomfortable but should not be painful. The appointment should generally take about 15 minutes in the doctor’s surgery or health clinic.

A woman can lie on her side or on her back for the screening test. The doctor or nurse taking the test will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into the vagina to hold it open. The cervix is the area where the top of the vagina leads to the uterus (womb). The doctor or nurse will use a small, specialized broom to gently brush off a sample of cells from the cervix. This sample is sent to the laboratory to be checked.
The laboratory will examine the test sample for cell changes. If low grade changes are found, the laboratory will also test the sample for certain types of HPV infection. This will help to advise what needs to be done next.

A cervical screening test is not a diagnostic test. As with all screening tests, cervical screening may not always be 100% accurate. There is a small risk that cell changes will not be picked up in a test. However, any cell changes will usually be picked up in future tests. This is why it is important to have regular cervical screening tests.
Routine screening every 3 or 5 years depending on age is recommended for women whose cervical screening test results remain normal.

When to see your GP:
If you have symptoms
Smear tests are for women who do not have symptoms. Visit your GP if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • a pain in your pelvis (anywhere between your bellybutton and the tops of your thighs)
    irregular vaginal bleeding
    bleeding between periods
    vaginal spotting or discharge
    pain during sex
    bleeding after sex.

If you do not have symptoms but are concerned:
If you are concerned, you can get a free consultation with your GP. If your GP is concerned after your consultation, you can get a free smear test.
You must wait at least 3 months from your last smear before being tested again. This is to allow cells to grow back and to get the best samples.




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