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CervicalCheck introduces HPV test for women who have had treatment at colposcopy

14 August 2012 - CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme has introduced HPV testing for women who have had treatment at CervicalCheck colposcopy clinics.

Of the women who attend for colposcopy following an abnormal smear test result between 30 and 40 per cent will need medical treatment. While this treatment is successful in over 90 per cent of cases, these women remain at an increased risk of developing further abnormalities. This additional HPV test will allow a more tailored approach to follow up which will ensure women at a higher risk of disease are managed appropriately and at the same time reduce unnecessary testing in women at lower risk of disease. In time, it will have the added benefit of facilitating efficiency and effectiveness of the CervicalCheck programme.

Majella Byrne, Acting Director of the National Cancer Screening Service outlined the benefits saying “The new combined HPV and smear test will be offered to women at CervicalCheck colposcopy clinics at six and eighteen months following treatment. If both these tests are satisfactory then those women will be returned to routine screening. This replaces the current policy of annual smear tests for up to ten years for the majority of women.”

Dr Gráinne Flannelly, Clinical Director, CervicalCheck, welcomed the introduction of HPV testing, saying “We are confident that this test will reduce unnecessary testing while allowing earlier identification of women who need more intensive follow-up. The introduction of HPV testing is an important milestone in the progress of the CervicalCheck programme as this is likely to become more important into the future when HPV testing may very well replace current cytology screening technologies.”

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection of the cervix (the neck of the womb). In most cases it does not need treatment and the body will clear the infection on its own usually within an eighteen month period. Persistent infections with HPV can result in the development of abnormal cells on the cervix and these changes can be treated or removed at colposcopy. These treatments are usually very successful at getting rid of the HPV infection as well as treating the cervical abnormalities. Following the treatment, knowledge of the HPV status can be valuable as women who test negative for high-risk types of the virus have a significantly lower risk of recurrence.


Sheila Caulfield, Communications, National Cancer Screening Service

Tel: 01 8659300/087 637 5131


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