Cervical Screening Up-Date
Cervical Check is a screening programme that screens asymptomatic, healthy women for pre-cancerous abnormalities by carrying out cervical smears every three to five years. Any abnormalities that are picked up are monitored, with either repeat smear tests or by referral to a colposcopy clinic, which is a specialised gynaecology clinic that takes a closer look at the cervix and can also treat some pre-malignant conditions.
Within the screening system there are false negatives and false positives and that’s true of every screening system in the world. The rate of false negatives in cervical check runs at up to 30% which is in line with international standards.
Cervical Check has carried out 3 million smear tests in the past decade and managed to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer in Ireland by 7% a year and save many women’s lives despite the limitations of the screening process.
However there will always be false negatives, that’s the nature of screening as opposed to diagnostic tests and of the 3 million tests done, 208 of these tests were found to be inaccurate in the audit. Audits are carried out on screening programmes to see if the level of false negatives falls within the acceptable range.
Currently, the clinical advice from the HSE and National Screening Service, including Cervical Check, is that women who have had normal screening results do not clinically require an urgent smear test and best advice, as has always existed, is to continue with cervical screening as per recommended schedule.
However, if you are still concerned or are experiencing any symptoms, you may make an appointment with the doctor to discuss these concerns or request a repeat screening test free of charge*
(*Please note Cervical Check have advised that a gap of at least 3 months is necessary for a rescreen as there will not be enough cells to test)
For up-to-date clinical information please refer to the Cervical Check website www.cervicalcheck.ie