Women in Laois are least likely to attend cervical smear tests, a report detailing the uneven levels of attendance between different counties has revealed.
As the HSE urges women to arrange their first smear test, the report found that women in Clare, Kilkenny, Laois, Monaghan, Offaly, and Roscommon are the least likely to attend cervical screenings. Laois was found to have the lowest level of attendance in the country, with fewer than 70% of eligible women availing of the service.
With 90 women dying each year from cervical cancer and a further 300 diagnosed with disease, the HSE is urging women between the ages of 25 to 60 to avail of free screening through CervicalCheck if they have not already done so.
According to the HSE, cervical cancer is highly preventable if caught in time. A smear test aims to detect any changes in the cells of a woman’s cervix, before they become cancerous.
While overall attendance is up for the potentially life saving service, just six counties achieved a target of 80% attendance over a five-year period. Just two counties had attendance rates above 80%, Westmeath and Carlow, with attendance of more than 85% over the five years.
Women over the age of 50 are also less likely to attend a screening than younger women, the report also finds. While 83% of women attending the clinics were between the ages of 25 and 49, just 13% were aged between 50 and 60.
While the findings of the report highlight that almost 79% of all eligible women availed of the service, clinical director of CervicalCheck Dr Gráinne Flannelly said this percentage needed to increase, especially in counties with low attendance and among older women.
“Cervical cancer takes a long time to develop and often has no symptoms, which is why regular screening is crucial. We urge all women aged 25 to 60 to arrange their first smear test if they’ve never done so, or to check when their next free smear test is due — it’s free, it only takes a few minutes and it could save your life.”
According to the report, 16,549 women were referred for further colposcopy services after availing of cervical screening. As a result, 6,560 treatments were carried out for changes that otherwise would have gone undetected, reducing the risk of cancer by 90% for those women.
All women aged between 25 and 60 can avail of free cervical screening every three or five years. Eligible women can choose to avail of the test at more than 4,500 registered practitioners.
www.cervicalcheck.ie or freephone 1800 45 55 55
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