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The National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) today published the first statistical report for CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme. The report provides screening statistics for the first 12 months of the CervicalCheck programme, 1 September 2008 to 31 August 2009 as well as an overview of activities and developments within CervicalCheck up to the date of publication.

CervicalCheck became available to over 1.1 million women aged 25 to 60 on 1 September 2008. The overall aim of CervicalCheck is to reduce the incidence and mortality rate of cervical cancer by detecting changes on the cells of the cervix before they become cancerous.

In brief, from 1 September 2008 to 31 August 2009 CervicalCheck:
• Provided free smear tests to 284,833 women
• Almost 85 per cent of satisfactory smear test results in the period were negative or normal
• Of the remainder, 13.9 per cent showed low grade abnormalities
• 1.4 per cent showed high grade abnormalities
• 11,112 women were referred to colposcopy for further investigation
• 4,714 women received treatment at colposcopy

While the purpose of cervical screening is to detect changes in the cells of the cervix before they become cancerous, 100 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer during the reporting period.

Commenting on the performance of CervicalCheck during its initial year of screening, Tony O’Brien, Director of the NCSS said: “The performance of the CervicalCheck programme has exceeded all expectations. Almost 285,000 women benefited from CervicalCheck during its initial year of screening. Each of these women has benefited from a quality assured cervical screening programme that operates in line with the highest international standards. Regular smear tests at recommended intervals can prevent cervical cancer. Some women will be offered up to 11 routine smear tests and will remain part of the CervicalCheck programme for 35 years and we must continually focus on maintaining a high uptake of cervical screening in the years ahead.”
Commenting on the results, Tony O’Brien continued: “The positive predictive value (PPV) of referral for colposcopy measures the proportion of women with positive smear test results who are correctly diagnosed. It is one of the most important diagnostic measures of a screening programme as it reflects the probability that a positive test has detected the underlying condition being tested. During the reporting period CervicalCheck recorded in excess of 86 per cent PPV for high grade abnormalities and in excess of 95 per cent for low grade abnormalities. The combination of high levels of screening, quick delivery of results, high PPV performance and quality assured colposcopy services reflects the effectiveness of the programme in detecting and treating abnormalities on the cells of the cervix in women who are generally without symptoms.”

The majority of the 284,833 women screened were in the younger age groups with numbers falling with increasing age. The highest level of uptake was among women aged 25 to 29, representing 20.8 per cent of all women screened. The second highest level was among women aged 30 to 35, representing 19.3 per cent of all women screened. The lowest level of uptake was among women aged 55 to 60, representing 6.8 per cent of all women screened. The programme will put increased emphasis on encouraging women in this age group to participate in screening.

The vast majority of smear tests (approximately 93%) were taken in the primary care setting, primarily in GP practices. The remainder of smear tests were carried out at colposcopy, gynaecology and Sexually Transmitted Infection/Gentio-Urinary Medicine (STI/GUM) clinics. Of those women that had their smear tests carried out in a primary care setting, approximately 92 per cent attended a GP practice and approximately eight per cent of women opted to have their smear test at a clinic other than a GP practice, such as a Family Planning, Women’s Health or Well Woman Clinic.

Over time, based on a target uptake of 80 per cent, a successful national, quality assured cervical screening programme has the potential to significantly reduce mortality rates in the screened population by as much as 80 per cent.



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