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GHA rolls out modernised programme for cervical cancer screening

The Gibraltar Health Authority has launched a modernised and updated cervical cancer screening programme at the Primary Care Centre.

The service, which is in line with UK best practice guidelines for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing, fulfils a Gibraltar Government manifesto commitment and promotes prevention over cure.

The PCC will offer this updated testing on all routine cervical smears for women aged 25-64 years.

From a practical perspective the changes centre on how the smear test is processed once taken.

Samples will all be tested for HPV, which is a virus proven to cause cervical cancer, as well as the use of Liquid Based Cytology, where the samples are suspended in liquid for transfer to laboratory slides.

By using this process, results will be available much faster and accuracy much greater, meaning fewer recalls needed due to abnormalities or inadequate smears, the GHA said.

The screening administrative process by which cervical smears are offered will not change.

As smears are due, women will be sent letters with a dedicated number to call and make an appointment.

Explanatory information will then be provided for the clinical process when taking the smears.

- Women aged between 25-50 who have not had a smear in the last three years, or those between 51-64 who have not had a smear in the last five years, are urged to call the GHA’s dedicated number +350 56004698 to make an appointment.

- Women who are up to date with their cervical screening do not have to do anything as they will be recalled automatically when their date is due.

- Women who have just turned 25 will automatically be invited for their first screening smear.

The Minister for Health, Samantha Sacramento, said: “I am delighted to have delivered a manifesto commitment that ensures prevention better than cure remains at the top of our health agenda.”

“HPV testing is the direction of travel for UK Cervical Cancer Screening programmes, is evidence-based and reflects years of HPV vaccination in the community for girls and more recently boys.”

“Cancer screening programmes are vital for the early detection of cancer and as a result, much more favourable clinical outcomes.”

“I applaud the excellent effort made by the GHA team involved in the planning of this modernised service.”

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