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Cancer Screening Programmes

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 13 March 2019

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Questions (70)

Bríd Smith


70. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health his plans for rolling out a new HPV based CervicalCheck programme. [12411/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the HSE to introduce HPV testing as the primary screening method for the prevention of cervical cancer as soon as possible. Funding to implement the switch to HPV screening, and extend HPV vaccination to boys, has been allocated in Budget 2019.

The decision to switch to primary HPV screening follows on from a Health Technology Assessment carried out by HIQA. This found that it would be beneficial, both clinically and from a cost effectiveness perspective, to make this transition.

The HPV test is a more accurate testing mechanism than liquid-based cytology, which is the current testing mechanism. Its use will result in fewer false negative results, though it is very important to be clear that false negatives will always be inherent in screening. Where a positive result for HPV is found, cytology is then undertaken as a second test.

The introduction of primary HPV screening is in line with developments in cervical screening internationally. Ireland will be among the first countries in the world to make this transition. The HSE has been engaging with other countries who have already made the switch – the Netherlands, and Australia - or who are preparing to do so, to identify learnings for the project, and has been progressing work across a range of workstreams including procurement, ICT and colposcopy services. Pre-tender market engagement has been completed and a Prior Information Notice was published on 20 February.