Get serious about smears... Cork camogie team back campaign

The Lady Mayoress has issued an open invitation to the women of Cork to attend an event to mark European Cervical Cancer Week this month, writes ELAINE DUGGAN
Get serious about smears... Cork camogie team back campaign
Cork Camogie players, Aoife Murray, Gemma O'Connor, Julia White, Chloe Sigerson and Libby Coppinger, lending their support to the Pearl of Wisdom campaign, aimed at raising awareness surrounding cervical cancer. Picture Darragh Kane

A POSTCARD campaign will be launched in Cork next week in a bid to encourage more women to have a smear test.

Although the uptake in Cork of CervicalCheck is 80% — out performing other counties — the National Cervical Screening Programme and the Irish Family Planning association are keen to boost this number even further.

The campaign is being launched to coincide with European Cervical Cancer Week and the Pearl of Wisdom Campaign, which has been running since 2008.

Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cells lining the cervix (neck of the womb).

The main message this year is ‘Let’s get Serious about Cervical Cancer’ and the call to action is ‘check when your next smear test is due or register for your first’ on the CervicalCheck website or Freephone service.

European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs from January 28 to February 3 and health promoters are keen to stress that the HPV vaccination and Cervical screening is the best way to prevent cervical cancer.

An event will be hosted by the Lady Mayoress Georgina Fitzgerald and her daughters Michelle and Deborah on Wednesday, January 31, from 11am to 1pm, in the Clayton Hotel, Lapps Quay.

Cork camogie team, who are supporting this year’s campaign, have been invited to attend the event. There is also an open invite to the women of Cork, in the 25 to 60 age bracket, to come along on the day. There will be coffee and music and information stands as well as a photo booth, where women can go in and take a selfie, to share online with the hash tag #ShareTheWisdom

Pearls of Wisdom, a symbol aimed at raising awareness of cervical cancer, will also be distributed at the Cork event.

There will be postcards handed out, for women to take home and give to others, encouraging them to have a smear test.

Senior Health Promotion Officer with the National Screening Service, Lynn Swinburne, said Cork is doing well in the CervicalCheck uptake stats, but they are working to improve the rate.

“We can always do better. 20% are still not attending,” she said.

A spokesperson for the campaign added: “The Pearl of Wisdom Campaign is the largest event of the year for CervicalCheck and gives the programme a prime opportunity to raise awareness among women aged 25 to 60 about the importance of regular cervical screening in preventing cervical cancer.

“Throughout the campaign we ask women to wear a pearl, thousands of which will be distributed nationwide throughout the week. We ask supporters to wear a pin during the campaign week to show solidarity with those affected by cervical cancer and to highlight the importance of cervical screening.”

The aims of the Pearl of Wisdom campaign are to:

Raise awareness among women aged 25 to 60 about the importance of regular cervical screening in preventing cervical cancer.

Increase uptake of the CervicalCheck programme by encouraging eligible women to check when their next smear is due or, for non-attenders, to register for their first test.

Increase awareness of the Pearl of Wisdom pin, the international emblem of cervical cancer prevention.

Focus on low uptake counties with Screening Promotion to promote increase uptake of Cervical Screening.

The distribution of 30,000 Pearl of Wisdom packs to partners across Ireland and a national media campaign, fronted by broadcaster and campaign ambassador Maura Derrane.

A number of events will also run around the country, with Health Promotion Teams, including the event on January 31 in Cork.

Of the 263,481 women screened by CervicalCheck, 90% received a normal result.
Of the 263,481 women screened by CervicalCheck, 90% received a normal result.

ABOUT CERVICAL CHECK

CERVICAL Check is one of the national screening programmes provided by the National Screening Service, which is part of the Health Service Executive.

The CervicalCheck Programme Report 2015/2016 shows that of the 263,481 women screened, over 90% of women received a normal result. Within the same period, 17,909 women attended colposcopy, an increase of 1,360 in comparison to the previous year, and 7,131 treatments were carried out, reducing the risk of cervical cancer by 90% for those women.

Approximately 300 women are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year in Ireland and over 90 women die from the disease. The best way to prevent cervical cancer is by having the HPV vaccination and regular cervical screening.

A cervical screening test looks for early changes in the cells of cervix, before they become cancerous. A cervical screening test is a simple procedure that only takes a few minutes and can saves lives.

All women in Ireland aged between 25 and 60 can avail of free cervical screening tests through CervicalCheck - The National Cervical Screening Programme. Women can choose to have their screening test done from over 4,500 GPs, practice nurses and health clinics nationwide.

CervicalCheck provides for women aged 25 to 44 to have free cervical screening tests every three years and women aged 44 to 60 every five years.

The latest figures show that 84.4% of women aged 25 to 29 years have been screened compared to 69.9% of women in the 55-59 year old group.

To see when your next free smear is due call 1800454555 or visit cervicalcheck.ie

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