A cervical smear test is a method of detecting abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in the cervix in order to prevent cervical cancer. Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Cells in the cervix change in appearance before they become cancerous so a cervical smear test can detect warning signs that cancer might develop in the future.
What is involved?
A cervical smear test is a simple procedure whereby cells are collected from the cervix and sent to a laboratory to be tested for anything unusual. If abnormal changes are found, further test will be carried out to determine if treatment is needed in a hospital setting and we will arrange your referral. The earlier abnormal cell changes are found, the easier they are to treat.
In most cases the cells that are taken are found to be normal. Abnormal cells are found in some women. An abnormal result does not mean cancer in the vast majority of cases. Abnormal cells indicate that cancer may develop sometime in the future. Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer. Treatment can be given to prevent cancer from developing in women with abnormal cells. In a small number of cases also a test may be ambiguous and need to be repeated with these results returning as normal.
Cervical smear testing is recommended every three years for woman aged 25 to 44 and every five years for woman aged 45 to 60. The National Screening programme provides free smear tests to woman ages 25 to 60 in Ireland which we can carry out using the nurse or doctor in our practice.
Register with Cervical Check at 061 406500 or www.cancerscreening.ie to check if you are eligible for the screening programme.