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HEALTH A smear could save your life

A smear could save your life

This week, January 20-26 is European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. To raise awareness of the cervical cancer in Ireland, the National Family Planning Association has teamed up with CervicalCheck – the National Cervical Screening Programme – to encourage women aged from 25 to 60 to avail of free smear tests from a GP or family planning clinic of their choice.
A smear test checks for abnormalities of the neck of the womb (cervix); it’s the best way of detecting HPV virus, or human papillomavirus. HPV is  extremely common, and is transmitted via skin-on-skin contact. Persistent infection with certain high-risk forms of HPV is responsible for 99 per cent of cervical cancer.
Approximately eight out of ten adults have had HPV at some time during their lives, and it rarely produces any effects. However, abnormalities show up in about 5 per cent of smear tests. Around 1 or 2 per cent will develop pre-cancerous cells, and a tiny minority of these progress to get cervical cancer. About 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Ireland each year, and over 90 lives are lost. Regular cervical screening can stop cervical cancer before it starts.
You don’t need an invitation letter or to register with CervicalCheck. To arrange a free smear test, simply contact a registered smeartaker of your choice to make an appointment. GPs, practice nurses, Women’s Health, Family Planning and Well Woman Clinics all over Ireland are registered to provide free smear tests.
To find out who is on the registered list of smeartakers in Co Mayo, call CervicalCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or visit www.cervicalcheck.ie.
If you have already had a CervicalCheck smear test, CervicalCheck will write to you when your next smear test is due. If you have changed address, remember to let CervicalCheck know your new contact details.