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Women over 45 'less likely to have smear tests'

The Irish Family Planning Association is this week encouraging women between 25 and 60 to go for free cervical smears.

Image: Uterus model via Shutterstock

WOMEN AGED over 45 are less likely to undergo regular cervical smear tests than younger women, despite the risk of contracting cervical cancer in their middle age.

That’s according to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), which is launching a week-long initiative to encourage women between the ages of 25 and 60 to participate in a free nationwide programme of smear tests.

IFPA’s annual Cervical Cancer Prevention Week continues until Saturday, with this year’s initiative focussing particularly aged 45 or older who are also less likely to undergo regular tests to diagnose cervical cancer, by far the most effective way of monitoring the condition.

This is despite the availability of free tests for all women between the ages of 25 and 60 under the HSE’s CervicalCheck programme, under which 82 per cent of all eligible women undergo tests.

Attendance among women aged 45, however, is only 60 per cent – while there is almost full attendance among those of younger age.

“Some women are less likely to attend for smears once they stop having children, and women in this age-group also visit their doctor less frequently, so GPs and nurses have fewer opportunities to remind them about the importance of regular smears,” IFPA medical director Dr Caitríona Henchion said.

“However, cervical cancer can still be a major health risk for women at this stage of their lives – and the best way to prevent cervical cancer is to participate in regular screening.”

The average age of diagnosis of cervical cancer is 45, with about 300 women diagnosed with the condition every year. The condition is fatal in about 30 per cent of cases.

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Gavan Reilly

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