Women’s risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer will be greatly reduced thanks to plans to introduce a vaccination programme for 12-year-old girls next year and to roll out a cervical screening programme nationally.
That is according to local Fianna Fail TD Noel Treacy who says 180 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in Ireland each year. Some 70 of these result in death.
“Minister Harney announced this week that she has asked the Health Service Executive to submit a plan for the introduction of an HPV vaccination programme for 12-year-old girls to start in September 2009. It is still dependent on a couple of things, such as the projected uptake of the vaccination and the cost of implementing the programme but I am very hopeful that we see it introduced next year.
“Medical experts have advised the Government that the introduction of a universal, high uptake, vaccination programme for young girls, in conjunction with cervical screening, could significantly reduce overall cervical cancer rates.”
Deputy Treacy says the virus is very common. Up to 80 per cent of women will come into contact with it at some point in their life.
“The introduction of a vaccination will be a very positive move towards the reduction in numbers of women getting diagnosed with the disease. It needs to be matched as soon as possible with the roll out on a national basis of a cervical screening programme.
“There are plans to introduce this service, and when these plans are implemented, the service will be free of charge to eligible women all over the country. It is estimated that approximately 230,000 women will be screened annually when it is up and running.
“The Government allocated €5 million to the National Cancer Screening Service in 2007 towards the development of the programme and an additional €15 million has been allocated this year.”
This programme must be introduced soon, he says and must be teamed with the vaccination for young girls.
“ I hope this will start next September as announced. This will mean the risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer will be greatly reduced for women in this country.”
He sayd women should attend their GPs for regular cervical smear tests which can detect signs of the disease even at a very early stage.
“More information on cervical cancer is available from local GPs or from any Irish Family Planning Clinic. The national cancer helpline can also help with queries and is contactable on 01 800 200 700.”