The number of women in Donegal going for smear tests has been falling below HSE targets.

A report today showed that 76% of women in Donegal who are in the targeted age bracket for cervical cancer screening are availing of the test. Women between 25 and 60 years of age are invited to be screened, and it was hoped that more than 80% of those contacted would avail of it in the five years between 2010 and 2015.

While more women in Ireland than ever are availing of free cervical screening, rates are uneven across counties and ages, according to the programme report of CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme. 

While the number of women screened through CervicalCheck is at its highest since the programme began in 2008, women are less likely to attend for cervical screening in some counties. These include Clare, Kilkenny, Laois, Monaghan, Offaly and Roscommon.

Women over the age of fifty are also less likely to attend for screening than younger women, the report found. 

wood-light-fashion-peopleDr Grainne Flannelly, Clinical Director of CervicalCheck, stated: “This report highlights how CervicalCheck is going from strength to strength, with almost 79% of the 1.2 million eligible women availing of cervical screening. However, we want to increase this even further to 80%, especially in counties where uptake is lower and among older women.”

Dr Flannelly added: “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.”

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix. Each year, approximately 300 women in Ireland are diagnosed with cervical cancer, 6,500 women receive treatment for pre-cancerous forms and 90 women die from the disease.

However cervical cancer is also highly preventable. Screening aims to detect any changes in the cells of a woman’s cervix, before they become cancerous.

Through CervicalCheck, all women aged between 25 and 60 can avail of free cervical screening at over 4,500 registered practitioners of their choice every three or five years, depending on their age. 

Women can check when their next test is due at or by calling Freephone 1800 45 55 55.