One in four women over 45 not up to date with cervical screening

CervicalCheck head says cancer rates are higher in areas of deprivation

One in four women over the age of 45 is not up to date with her cervical screening test, the head of the national cervical cancer screening service has said.

Clinical director of CervicalCheck, Prof Grainne Flannelly, was speaking ahead of European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which runs from Sunday January 28th until Saturday February 3rd.

Prof Flannelly said the screening service had now reached the target of 80 per cent coverage, which meant that 80 per cent of women have had a smear test in the last five years.

She said it was also 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.


Almost 300 women in Ireland are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and up to 90 die from it. Along with the HPV vaccine, regular cervical screening is the most effective way to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

“We must not be complacent; inequalities still exist,” Prof Flannelly said.

“Cervical cancer rates are higher in areas of deprivation and one in four women over 45 are not up to date with their cervical screening test (smear).”

“Maintaining regular cervical screening gives the best chance of detecting changes in the cervix which can be treated before cervical cancer develops.

“During this week we call on all women between 25 and 60 years to make sure to check when their next test is due and make sure they participate in this valuable programme.”

CervicalCheck has screened more than a million women throughout the State in the 10 years since the free service began.

Dr Caitriona Henchion, clinical director at the IFPA said the first group of women who have been vaccinated against HPV were due to celebrate their 25th birthdays this year.

She said that with this group of women entering the cervical screening programme it could “really start the countdown to the elimination of cervical cancer”.

She said all women approaching the age of 25 who have had the HPV vaccination must also register and attend for a cervical screening test (smear) to have the best chance against cervical cancer.

On Friday, Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne launched the Pearl of Wisdom campaign on behalf of CervicalCheck and the Irish Family Planning Association.

The Pearl of Wisdom pin is the European symbol of cervical cancer prevention.

During campaign week, 30,000 pearls, in the form of a brooch, will be distributed through health promotion networks. They are also available from CervicalCheck on freephone 1800 454555.

Women aged between 25 and 60 can check that they are on the register, when their next test is due, and change their address online at