100 cancer diagnoses in first year of screening

ONE hundred women were diagnosed with cervical cancer during the first year of CervicalCheck – the national cervical screening programme.

CervicalCheck became available to more than 1.1m women aged 25 to 60 on September 1, 2008, with the aim of reducing the incidence of cervical cancer.

In 2007, 286 cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed and in 2006, 83 women died from the disease.

Director of the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) Tony O’Brien said the performance of the screening programme exceeded all expectations.

“It is a huge success,” said Mr O’Brien, when he revealed that almost 285,000 women were given free smear tests during its initial year of screening.

“Each of these women has benefited from a quality assured cervical screening programme that operates in line with the highest international standards,” he said.

“Over time, based on a target uptake of 80%, a successful national, quality assured cervical screening programme has the potential to significantly reduce mortality rates in the screened population by as much as 80%.”

Almost 85% of the cervical smears taken between September 1, 2008, and August 31, 2009, were negative or normal. Some 13.9% showed low grade abnormalities, with 1.4% showing high grade abnormalities.

Most smear tests take place in a primary care setting, principally in GP offices.

Mr O’Brien said some women would be offered up to 11 routine smear tests and would remain part of the CervicalCheck programme for 35 years.

A total of 11,112 women were referred to colposcopy for further examination and 4,714 received treatment.

A colposcopy examination allows a specialist to look at any abnormal cervical cells more closely and decide if treatment is required.

Women aged 25 to 29 represented the greatest proportion of all women screened, at 20.8%, while women aged 30 to 35 represented 19.3%.

Women aged 55 to 60 represented just 6.8% of all women screened.

The statistics show that 28,925 colposcopy appointments were offered of which 19,294 (66%) were attended.

Cancelled appointments, at 7,376 represented 25.5% of all appointments. The number of defaulted appointments where no prior notice was given, at 2,186, or 7.6% of the total, was considered low.


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