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Eur J Cancer Prev. 2018 Mar;27(2):158-163. doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0000000000000323.

Establishment of a national cervical screening programme in Ireland, CervicalCheck: the first 6 years.

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National Screening Service.
School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


The national cervical screening programme, CervicalCheck, commenced in Ireland in 2008. Free cervical smear tests are offered to over 1.2 million women aged 25-60 every 3 (aged 25-44) and 5 (aged 45-60) years. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the achievements and document the experience of the first 6 years of a new cervical screening programme. Data were extracted from the programme screening register and colposcopy management systems. SAS, version 9.4 was used for statistical analysis. Over 1.98 million smear tests were performed in over 1 million women during the first 6 years of the programme. Overall 5-year coverage at the end of the sixth year was 77.0%, where coverage is presented for the target population of women aged 25-60 years and is adjusted for hysterectomy rates. The numbers of women attending colposcopy increased significantly from 10 000 new patients attending for the first time in the first year to a peak of almost 17 500 in the third year. Increased capacity in colposcopy has delivered significant improvements in waiting times; the percentage of women referred to colposcopy offered an appointment within 8 weeks increased from 41.5% in year 1 to 93.4% in year 4 and has remained above the greater than 90% standard thereafter. The number of biopsies increased markedly, with 33 768 women being diagnosed with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia-grade 2 (CIN2), CIN3 or adenocarcinoma in situ and 860 being diagnosed with invasive cancer by the end of the sixth year. Lessons from CervicalCheck include the importance of capacity planning in programme delivery. The programme continues to evolve, particularly with the increased usage of human papillomavirus testing and planning for future testing of the human papillomavirus (HPV)-vaccinated cohort.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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