It's easy to put off that smear test, but it could save your life.

RTE broadcaster Maura Derrane. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

Women across Donegal are being urged to attend for free smear tests during European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

The Pearl of Wisdom campaign launched this week to remind women aged 25-60 to check when their next smear is due, or to book their first test with a doctor or nurse registered with CervicalCheck.

RTE Broadcaster Maura Derrane is the Pearl of Wisdom campaign ambassador. She said: “We’re all busy, and it’s easy to put off having your smear test. Especially as women, we often put caring for everyone else ahead of looking after our own health. But this test is so important. Tell your mother, your sister, your daughter, your colleague, your friend. It only takes five minutes, and it really could save your life.”

Around 300 women in Ireland are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer every year and over 90 women die from the disease. Across Europe, 30,000 women die from cervical cancer every year.

The HSE report that a lower proportion of women over 50 availing of the free Cervical Check screening programme.

Dr Caitriona Henchion of the Irish Family Planning Association said “There’s sometimes a perception that this is a younger woman’s issue; women think they don’t have to worry about cervical cancer after age 50. But women in middle age are still very much at risk.”

“Cervical cancer takes a long time to develop and often has no symptoms. Through screening, we can pick up abnormalities at the pre-cancer stage, when it is easily treatable. Having your smear test is a quick, free and painless way to prevent the development of cervical cancer.”

Dr. Gráinne Flannelly, Clinical Director of CervicalCheck said “Over 79% of the eligible 1.2 million women have taken part in CervicalCheck and we aim to increase this even further. Since the programme started, over 50,000 women have been treated for precancerous changes, reducing their risk of cervical cancer by 90%. So this week, we are calling on all women aged 25 to 60 to check when their next smear test is due, or arrange their first test with a doctor or nurse registered with CervicalCheck if they have never done so. And to share the wisdom with other women.”

HSE Pearl of Wisdom

What is the Pearl of Wisdom?

The Pearl of Wisdom pin is the European symbol of cervical cancer prevention. During campaign week, 22,000 Pearls will be distributed through health promotion networks nationwide. Pearls are also available by calling CervicalCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55.

Women are invited to support the Pearl of Wisdom campaign by posting a selfie with their Pearl on social media, using the hashtag #ShareTheWisdom

Regular smear tests for women aged 25-60 are free from over 4,500 registered doctors and nurses nationwide. For more information, visit or Freephone 1800 45 45 55.