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Cervical screening to resume next month - breast and bowel cancer screening to restart in September

Priority groups will receive letters from 6 July.

Image: Shutterstock

THE HSE HAS said CervicalCheck screening will resume for priority groups next month and it hopes to clear the backlog from the suspension of this service by October.

CervicalCheck screening, along with three other screening programmes, was suspended at the end of March. 

Dr Colm Henry, HSE Chief Clinical Officer said letters will be issued from 6 July, first people who are new to the programme and to those were on recall for one-year surveillance due to previous abnormalities in smear tests. Tests will be scheduled from the following week.

Dr Henry said these tests will be HPV tests, which he said pick up more pre-cancerous changes than smears.

He said the resumption of BreastCheck screening is “more complicated” as people have to come to “a very congregated setting” with four static units and a number of vans that have to be repurposed to ensure the safety of staff and patients.

He said the first invitations for this screening will be issued in September.

Equally, letters will not be issued until September for bowel cancer screening. 

“It’s a test that is done at home that leads on in positive cases to a requirement for a colonoscopy in hospital setting – that’s the limiting step,” he said.

Dr Henry said there is a slower process now with more control measures in place to ensure there is no transmission of the virus with any potential cases that come in.

He said in the meantime any positive home-test cases from before the Covid-19 crisis that are due for a colonoscopy will be facilitated.

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Dr Henry also said screening for diabetic retinopathy will resume next month. 

“This is a balance of opposing risks as it is with the reintroduction of any services,” he said.

He said the HSE will be reviewing community transmission, addressing priority groups first and introducing these services in a phase incremental way.

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