31/01/2013

New Cervical Screening Test Will Benefit Women

Testing for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) will bring real benefits to women.

That was the message from the Health Minister as he announced that a test for HPV has now been incorporated within the Northern Ireland Cervical Cancer Screening Programme. The aim of the Programme is to reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and the number of women who die from it.

The Minister said: "Each year in Northern Ireland around 80-100 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 20-30 die from the disease.

"The link between HPV and the development of cervical cancer has long been established. The HPV immunisation programme to protect young girls against cervical cancer was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2008. Incorporating HPV testing within the cervical screening programme can be seen as a further step in the fight against cancer."

Screening is offered to all women aged 25-64 and is carried out via the cervical smear test. HPV testing will be done using the sample of cells taken during the cervical screening test.

Cervical smears which contain borderline or low-grade abnormalities will be tested for high-risk HPV strains and, if positive, the woman is referred to colposcopy (a procedure to examine an illuminated, magnified view of the cervix). Women with borderline or mildly abnormal smears that are HPV negative will be able to return to routine recall for cervical screening straight away instead of having a number of follow-up smears.

(CD)

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