Cervical Screening to August 2011

National Cancer Screening Service issues CervicalCheck programme report
The National Cancer Screening Service, part of the Health Service
Executive National Cancer Control Programme, recently issued the
CervicalCheck Programme Report providing screening statistics for the
third year of the programme’s operation (1st September, 2010 to 31st
August, 2011). In addition, the report provides an overview of
activity and developments within CervicalCheck up to the time of

The overall aim of CervicalCheck is to reduce the incidence of
cervical cancer by detecting changes in the cells of the cervix before
they become cancerous. In the first four years since the programme
launched on 1st September, 2008, almost 1.3 million CervicalCheck
smear tests were processed and more than 830,000 women have had at
least one free smear test.
In brief, from 1st September, 2010 to 31st August, 2011:-

▪ CervicalCheck provided over 338,670 free smear tests;
▪ Over 84 per cent of satisfactory smear test results in the period
were negative or normal. 13.9 per cent showed low grade
abnormalities. 1.7 per cent showed high grade abnormalities;
▪ Over 17,430 women women attended a colposcopy appointment for the
first time. In addition, 20,769 women attended a follow-up colposcopy
▪ Pre-cancerous abnormalities were detected in 8,091 women;
▪ Over 6,930 treatments to women were performed at colposcopy and 104
▪ women were diagnosed with cervical cancer;

Colposcopy waiting times for all 15 programme CervicalCheck colposcopy
services were reduced in line with targets during 2011 and have
remained within targets since.

A single smear test has little benefit to a woman. Regular smear
tests at recommended intervals can prevent cervical cancer. Some
women will be recalled for up to 11 routine smear tests and will
remain part of the CervicalCheck programme for 35 years. Screening is
effective when women continue to be screened regularly.

Screening policy and implementation is continually reviewed by the
National Cancer Screening Service. The recent introduction in May
2012 of HPV testing for a woman treated at colposcopy is an important
development in the progress of the CervicalCheck programme.

The programme will consider a more tailored approach to protocols for
management of women with low grade abnormalities. The 13.9 per cent
of low grade abnormalities is above the expected norm and while this
percentage reduced during year four of the programme it requires
further deliberation.

Over time, a successful national, quality assured cervical screening
programme has the potential to significantly reduce the incidence of
and mortality from cervical cancer by as much as 80 per cent in the
screened population.

As with its other population based screening programmes, BreastCheck
and the upcoming diabetic retinopathy screening programme and national
colorectal screening programme which will commence later this year,
the National Cancer Screening Service ensures that quality assurance
is paramount for CervicalCheck and all the essential elements are in
place to ensure risks to patients are minimised and that the best
clinical outcomes for patients are maximised.