Cervical Cancer Awareness – preventing cervical cancer with smear tests and the HPV vaccine
It’s the Pearl Of Wisdom Campaign 2018 in Ireland from Sunday 28th January to Saturday 3rd February, to promote European Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.
The Irish Cancer Society reports that there are around 300 women diagnosed with cervical cancer each year nationally in Ireland. Cervical cancer is the second most common female cancer in Europe.
As part of this year’s campaign to raise awareness of cervical cancer prevention, Cervical Check, the National Cervical Screening Programme, are encouraging girls and women across the country to take advantage of the free services available to protect them. Women are encouraged to stay up to date with their cervical screening (smear tests) and girls should have the HPV vaccine when it’s offered to them.
You can check when your next free cervical screening is due, by visiting CervicalCheck, or calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55.
Causes of cervical cancer
The HPV virus causes most cervical cancers. The virus is very common and is passed during sex. The Irish Cancer Society advises that most women will contract the HPV virus infection at some point during their lifetime and the infection usually clears itself without causing any real harm.
Ongoing HPV virus infections can cause abnormal changes to the lining of the cervix. If left untreated, the changes in the cervix can lead to cervical cancer.
Preventing cervical cancer
Regular cervical screening (smear tests) and the HPV vaccine are the most effective way to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Why it’s important for girls to get the HPV vaccine
Cervical cancer is now largely preventable as there is a vaccine which protects against the HPV virus which causes most cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine protects women against many HPV types. The vaccine is licensed for girls and women aged 9 to 26. Girls should take up the HPV vaccine when it is offered to them.
Why regular smear tests are important for women
Regular smear tests can decrease your risk of getting cervical cancer by detecting warning signs early.
Changes to cervical cells are common. However, abnormal changes which are not detected and monitored early can increase your risk of getting cervical cancer. Detecting changes to cervical cells earlier enables them to be monitored and treated more easily. Early detection can help to prevent cervical cancer.
The smear test, also known as a ‘pap’ test, is a test to check for changes in cervical cells, which are found at the neck and womb.
Get a free smear test in Cork
Cervical Check, the National Cervical Screening Programme, provides free cervical screening (smear tests) to women aged 25 to 60.
There are over 180 local GP practices here in Cork where you can get your free smear test.
Eligible women should receive an invitation by post, from Cervical Check, if they have never had a free smear test. If you have previously had a test, you should receive a letter advising when your next test is due.
Contact us here at Irwins Pharmacy group, or get in touch with your local GP, to find out more about getting the HPV vaccine for girls and cervical screening for women in Cork.