Cervical smear test
CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60. A smear test is a simple procedure that only takes minutes and is the most effective way to detect changes in the cells of the cervix.
CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme is a quality assured, organised and population-based screening programme that is managed by the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS). The programme provides free cervical screening (smear tests) to women aged 25 to 60 and is operated in line with best international practice.
A smear test (sometimes called a pap test) can detect changes in the cells of the cervix (neck of the womb). The earlier abnormal cell changes are found, the easier they are to treat.
There are no costs to a woman involved in having a smear test. CervicalCheck provides free cervical screening to women aged 25 to 60 years. This covers all aspects of the test from making the appointment, the initial consultation, the smear test, sending the sample to the laboratory (postage), the smear test result, follow-up and appropriate consultation if necessary.
Cervical screening is internationally accepted as a preventative health measure. While it is recognised that no screening test is 100 per cent accurate, cervical screening is the most effective method of reducing a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
Woman aged 25 to 60 who live in Ireland are eligible to have a free smear test. CervicalCheck has developed a register (list) of eligible women nationwide aged 25 to 60 through up-to-date information received from the Department of Social Protection.
CervicalCheck sends an invitation by post to women on this list who have never had a free CervicalCheck smear test.
Women who have already had a CervicalCheck smear test will be sent a letter to let them know when their next smear test is due.
Women can have a free CervicalCheck smear test providing:
- They attend a smeartaker (a doctor or practice nurse) who is registered with CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme
- They sign the Cervical Cytology Form
- Programme screening intervals are respected (see further detail below)In addition:
- If the result of a woman’s previous smear test recommends further screening, she is eligible for a free smear test
- The programme supports any woman who has received a recommendation for a post-colposcopy follow-up smear test
- Women aged 25 to 44 will be offered a free smear test every three years.
- Women aged 45 to 60 will be offered a free smear test every five years.
- Regardless of the age of a woman when she has her first CervicalCheck smear test, she needs to have two normal smear test results – three years apart, before moving to a five year screening interval.
- A woman may also be advised by CervicalCheck to have additional smear tests if further investigation is needed, as recommended by the programme.
Doctors receive the clinical results from the laboratories. CervicalCheck writes to women advising that their smear test results are available from their doctor or practice nurse and also advising of the next recommended step for them within the screening programme. The majority of smear test reults are negative or normal.