Cervical cancer takes a long time to develop and often has no signs or symptoms. 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.
The good news is that we know how to prevent cervical cancer. Regular cervical screening ensures that any abnormal cells in the cervix are detected early and treated early preventing the development of cervical cancer.
What is it?
A cervical smear test can detect cervical cancer before it is fully developed and when it is completely curable. Cells are taken from the cervix and are sent to the laboratory for examination. The smear test shows if there are any changes (pre-cancerous cells), which might develop into cancer. It can also detect cancerous cells when cancer has actually developed so that early treatment can be given to halt the spread.
(Cervix is located at the lower part of your womb, which protrudes into your vagina- the passage used in childbirth. (Sometimes called the neck of your womb)
When is the best time to have one?
The best time to have a smear test is mid-cycle, about two weeks after your period (if you are still having periods).
It is best not to have sexual intercourse in the 24 hours before your smear test.
Where can I have it done?
- Ballyowen castle Medical and dental centre
- Citywest Medical and Dental Centre
- Dundrum Medical and Dental Centre
- Griffeen Medical and Dental Centre
- Tyrellstown Medical and Dental Centre
- Ballyowen Lane Medical Centre
- Oldcourt Medical centre
How much does it cost?
Primacare offers free cervical screening to women aged 25 to 60.
women under 25 years are not eligible for a free smear test . The charge is 80euro for a private smear test.
What will happen when I have a smear test?
When you go for the test you will be shown into a private room where you will be asked to undress from the waist down. You will be asked to get on a couch and the nurse or doctor will tell you the position to lie in. This will usually be on your back with your knees bent up and outwards or it might be lying on your side with your knees together.
When you are ready, the nurse or doctor will use an instrument called a speculum. A few cells will be lightly scraped from the surface of the neck of the womb. The speculum will be removed and the test is over. You can get dressed. The cells will then be sent to a hospital, where they will be checked.
Will it hurt?
You may find this test uncomfortable but the test only lasts a few minutes. If you can relax you will find it more comfortable. Having a smear test will not harm you, and your body will naturally replace the few cells taken.
How will I get my results?
Cervicalcheck send a letter to the patient with the results in 4-5 weeks. If the result is normal the patient will not hear from the clinic. However if the result is abnormal the smeartaker will contact the patient directly advising them about the next step in treatment.
The smeartaker will either ask the patient to return for another smear test in 6 or 12 months or refer the patient for a procedure called a Colposcopy where a closer look is taken at the cervix with a camera.
What might the results of my test be?
For most women the result of the test is normal, and you will need to go for another routine smear test in to 3-5 years.
Sometimes you made need another smear because the first test did not give a clear result. If you have a mild infection, you may need a course of treatment, and then the test will be done again.
If your result shows there are slight changes in your sells, you will have these results explained to you by a doctor/nurse where you had your smear taken.
REMEMBER MOST WOMEN WHO HAVE AN ABNORMAL SMEAR DO NOT HAVE CANCER OF THE CERVIX.
THE EARLIER A CHANGE IS FOUND THE EASIER IT IS TO TREAT.
Can I reduce my risk of cervical cancer?
YES, you can reduce your risk by:
- Having a regular smear test every 3-5 years.
- Practicing safe sex.
- Not smoking