News – 23 January 2011
Regular cervical screening stops cervical cancer before it starts. That was the central message at the launch of European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (23.01.11) in Dublin this morning.
Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of early mortality among Irish women under 44, with over 90 lives lost to the disease every year. During the week, women’s health specialists are calling on women to avail of a free CervicalCheck screen from a registered GP or family planning clinic of their choice.
The campaign is being promoted by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) with the support of CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme.
Launching the awareness campaign IFPA Medical Director Dr Caitriona Henchion said: “Cervical cancer is unique because we know how to prevent it. Now that Ireland has a free cervical screening programme in place and a school-based vaccination programme, we are in a position to almost eliminate cervical cancer in a generation. With access to these prevention strategies the vast majority of girls growing up today can look forward to a cervical cancer free future.”
“Cervical cancer takes a long time to develop and often has no symptoms until an advanced stage. Regular screening can save lives by detecting any abnormalities at an early stage. A cervical screen is a simple procedure which takes only a few minutes and is the only way to ensure that any abnormal cells in the cervix are detected early and treated early, preventing the development of cervical cancer.”
During the week, which runs from 23-29 January, the IFPA will be distributing 22,000 Pearl of Wisdom badges and information leaflets to women around the country. The Pearl of Wisdom is the international emblem of cervical cancer prevention.
Assisting with today’s launch was broadcaster Maura Derrane who said: “More than 300 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in Ireland in 2009. But the good news is that it can be prevented. I urge all women who haven’t had a cervical screen in the last three years to do it now – it’s free, only takes a few minutes and could save your life.”
This year the IFPA is teaming up with the Irish Hairdresser Federation and its member salons around the country will present a Pearl of Wisdom badge and an information leaflet to every woman who has a hair appointment during the week.
“The Irish Hairdressers Federation is delighted to lend its support to the Pearl of Wisdom campaign. For many women a visit to the hair salon is a time of relaxation and reflection making it an ideal opportunity to pass on information about the importance of cervical screening,” said Saundra Fabian, President of the Irish Hairdresser Federation.
- The IFPA has teamed up with the Irish Hairdresser Federation and all 350 member salons around the country will present a free campaign badge and cervical screening information leaflet to every women who has a hair appointment during the week.
- CervicalCheck is hosting a number of information sessions and coffee around the country to raise awareness about the importance of screening. For more information see www.cervicalcheck.ie
- National Council for the Blind and Irish Deaf Society will be holding information sessions during the week
- Family Resource Centres around the country will be hosting information sessions and coffee mornings about cervical cancer prevention.
- A number of GPs in Cork are holding out-of-hours cervical screening services during the week.
Cervical Cancer: The Facts
- Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death among Irish women under 44, with over 90 lives lost to the disease every year. In 2009 304 new cases of the disease were diagnosed.
- Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 44 worldwide. Each year, 500,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed globally and more than 250,000 women die from the disease.
- 99% of cervical cancer cases are caused by persistent infection of certain high risk types of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world and approximately 50% to 80% of sexually active women contract some form of HPV at least once in their life. Only a small proportion will develop cervical cancer.
- Well organised screening programmes have been proven to reduce incidence of cervical cancer by 80% and the HPV vaccine has been proven almost 100% effective in preventing certain types of the virus that cause 70% of all cervical cancer cases.
- CervicalCheck is the government-funded national cervical screening programme. The programme provides for women aged 25-44 to have free cervical screening tests from a registered GP, nurse or family planning clinic of their choice every 3 years and women aged 44-60 every five years.
- A free HPV vaccination programme for girls in their 1st and 2nd years of second level school was rolled out in 2010. Starting from 2011, only girls entering into their 1st year of second level school are eligible for the free vaccination programme.
- See list of cervical cancer information sessions being held in locations around the country here.
- Show the women in your life you care about their health by sending a virtual pearl of wisdom on Facebook
- Read more about cervical cancer and how to prevent the disease here.
* Photo Marc O'Sullivan: Irish Hairdresser Federation President Saundra Fabian, Broadcaster Maura Derrane, IFPA Medical Director Dr Caitriona Henchion