Leitrim women reminded this is European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Leitrim Observer reporter

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Leitrim women reminded this is European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Irish Cancer Society

To mark European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, the Irish Cancer Society is urging women to ensure that they are up to date with their cervical cancer screening as it can save lives. Cervical cancer is the only gynaecological cancer that can be prevented by having regular smear tests.

Cervical cancer takes a long time to develop and often has no symptoms. Regular cervical screening is vital because it detects changes to the cells in the cervix early, before they become cancer. All women aged 25 to 60 are entitled to free tests through the State’s CervicalCheck screening programme. If you would like more information about your next appointment, please call CervicalCheck on 1800 45 45 55 or visit www.cervicalcheck.ie

Naomi Fitzgibbon, Cancer Information Service Manager with the Irish Cancer Society said, “In Ireland, an average of 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and it is the second most common female cancer in Europe. While the numbers are reducing, it is still absolutely vital that women attend their free cervical screening test.

Fitzgibbon added: “There is strong evidence that most cervical cancer cases are caused by a virus called the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is passed on during sex. In Ireland, the HPV vaccine is offered free of charge to all girls in their first year of secondary school. The combination of a HPV vaccination programme and an effective screening programme has the potential to reduce the incidence of cervical cancers by up to 90%.

“Each year, the Irish Cancer Society supports the Irish Family Planning Association’s (IFPA) Pearl of Wisdom campaign which runs during Cervical Cancer Prevention week. The Pearl of Wisdom is the international emblem of cervical cancer prevention. The IFPA distributes Pearls of Wisdom and information leaflets nationwide and we would encourage all women to wear the pin and support the campaign,” Fitzgibbon concluded.

The Society urges all women to be aware of the symptoms of cervical cancer. These include:

- Abormal bleeding. For example, bleeding in between your periods, after sex or after the menopause
- Blood-stained vaginal discharge that may have a foul smell
- Discomfort or pain in your pelvis

Anyone who experiences symptoms should call our Cancer Nurseline of speak to their doctor, without delay. To speak to a cancer nurse contact our Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, email cancernurseline@ irishcancer.ie or drop into one of our Daffodil Centres.