Calling all women aged 25-60: Let’s Get Serious About Preventing Cervical Cancer

Check when your next cervical screening (smear) test is due here

Today, 26th January 2018, Minister Catherine Byrne launched the Pearl of Wisdom campaign on behalf of CervicalCheck (The National Cervical Screening Programme) and the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA). European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week takes place from 28th January-3rd February. During this week, CervicalCheck is encouraging all women aged between 25-60 to have their cervical screening test (smear test) and not to become complacent.

Launching the campaign, Minister Catherine Byrne said “This European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, I want to ask women to take good care of themselves and make sure to get their smear test.  It’s quick, and it’s free, and it could honestly save your life.  We have one of the best cervical cancer screening programmes in the world – please take advantage of it and get the test.

“CervicalCheck has screened more than a million women in the 10 years since the free nationwide service began.  Regular screening gives the best chance of detecting changes at an early stage, and we know that early treatment gives women the best outcome against cervical cancer.

“I know that women over 50 are less likely to get a smear test.  It’s still important though, even if you’ve reached menopause and your family is complete.  I know myself it can be hard to find time and it’s easy to make excuses, but I’m asking women to make the appointment and put your mind at ease.”

Professor Grainne Flannelly, Clinical Director of CervicalCheck said “Today we have an opportunity to share the really good news that CervicalCheck has reached the target of 80 percent coverage. This means that 80% of women have had a smear test in the last five years.  In addition it is encouraging to see that Irish cervical cancer rates have been reducing by 7% per year since 2010, according to the latest National Cancer Registry figures.

Professor Flannelly emphasised “we must not be complacent, inequalities still exist. Cervical cancer rates are higher in areas of deprivation and one in four women over 45 are not up to date with their cervical screening test (smear).”

Professor Flannelly also said “maintaining regular cervical screening gives the best chance of detecting changes in the cervix which can be treated before cervical cancer develops. During this week we call on all women between 25 and 60 years to make sure to check when their next test is due and make sure they participate in this valuable programme”.

Dr Caitriona Henchion, Clinical Director at the IFPA said “the first group of women who have been vaccinated against HPV are due to celebrate their 25th birthday this year. With this group of women entering the cervical screening programme it could really start the countdown to the elimination of cervical cancer.” However she added that to make this happen all women approaching the age of 25, who have had the HPV vaccination, must also register and attend for a cervical screening test (smear) to have the best chance against cervical cancer.

Women aged between 25 and 60 can check that they are on the register, when their next test is due, and change their address online at or by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55.


Media Queries

Contact; Noreen Turley—-  087 400 2126

Tom Fitzpatrick —  087289 5685

Note to editor:

Interviews with case studies and medical experts can be facilitated on a request basis.

The Pearl of Wisdom pin is the European symbol of cervical cancer prevention. During campaign week, 30,000 Pearls will be distributed through health promotion networks nationwide. Pearls are also available by calling Cervical Check on Freephone 1800 45 45 55.

Women are invited to support the Pearl of Wisdom campaign by posting a selfie with their Pearl on social media, using the hashtag #ShareTheWisdom.

Each year, almost 300 women in Ireland are diagnosed with cervical cancer and up to 90 lives are lost to cervical cancer.

Along with the HPV vaccine, regular cervical screening is the most effective way to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

During the campaign we are asking women to check when their next smear test is due by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or by using our online facility at

Women who call the Freephone line during the week can ask for a free pearl. We are asking women who receive a pearl to take a selfie and post on social media with the hashtag #ShareTheWisdom. We hope women can use the power of communication through social media to highlight the importance of regular cervical screening and their influence to encourage their peers to go for a smear test if they have been putting it.

Messages for all Women from CervicalCheck

  • Let’s get serious about preventing Cervical Cancer


  • CALL TO ACTION: Check when your next smear test is due, by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or by visiting


  • CERVICAL CANCER: The cells of the cervix can slowly change over time with no symptoms which is why regular screening is important. There almost 300 new cases of cervical cancer and up to 90 deaths on average each year (National Cancer Registry – latest figures).


  • DO NOT BECOME COMPLACENT: Do not put off having your cervical screening test. Your next screening test is as important as your first.


  • FREE TO ALL WOMEN: All women aged 25-60 can avail of a free cervical screening test (smear) every three or five years, depending on their age, from over 4,500 registered doctors or nurses.


  • IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE: The cervical screening test (smear) is free, takes a few minutes and could potentially save your life.


  • SHARE THE WISDOM: Wear or share a free Pearl of Wisdom, the emblem of cervical cancer prevention. Share a selfie on social media using the hashtag #ShareTheWisdom.


  • HPV & SCREENING: Ensure schoolgirls are vaccinated against HPV. Attend for cervical screening when you become eligible at 25 years old. HPV Vaccination and cervical screening together offer the best way to protect future generations of women