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14,600 high-priority cases top list for CervicalCheck as scans resume after Covid lockdown

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Doctors and nurses will wear PPE for the tests

Doctors and nurses will wear PPE for the tests

Doctors and nurses will wear PPE for the tests

The number of women invited for CervicalCheck screening early next month will be limited to just 14,600 who are high-priority, it emerged yesterday.

CervicalCheck will be the first of the screening programmes to resume after being paused due to Covid-19 restrictions.

BreastCheck and BowelScreen are not starting until September.

The three programmes pick up around 1,700 cancers a year in people who are invited for screening and unaware they have the disease.

According to CervicalCheck, it plans to restart cervical screening next Monday and women who are a priority will be sent a letter with a time to book an appointment.

Review

"Our plan to restart screening will depend on public health advice as the coronavirus restrictions continue to ease," it said.

"We will closely review this guidance to make sure conditions remain safe for you and our staff.

"We're restarting with people who need an early test because they are due an early repeat screening test - a one-year recall."

Others included are women who need a repeat test because their last sample could not be tested - a three-month recall.

The first group will also include women who have become eligible for their first cervical screening test.

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BreastCheck will restart in September

BreastCheck will restart in September

BreastCheck will restart in September

"We are contacting people who are on a yearly recall first. They have been waiting longer for their screening appointment," a spokesman said.

"Being on a yearly recall does not mean you have cancer. It may be because you have another medical condition, so you need extra monitoring."

After the first letters are sent it will move on to women eligible for routine screening.

It will begin with women who have been waiting for the longest.

Covid-19 safety measures mean that women will have to speak to their GP over the phone before the appointment.

The nurse or doctor taking the test will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and the patient will be asked to wear a mask during the appointment.

Because of physical distancing, the women will be asked to wait outside until called.

The advice is to try to organise childcare, if needed, before the appointment.

Women are also asked to plan to wait a little longer at the surgery for the test, if needed, to check transport timetables for returning home and to bring warm clothes or a rain jacket.

Women must bring their own pen to sign the screening form.

The screening is not a test for cancer. However, if abnormalities are found it can help to prevent cancer from developing.

CervicalCheck has now introduced HPV testing in all its laboratories that it uses and it will reduce the risk of abnormalities being missed. It will find 18 out of 20 cases of abnormal cells.

The previous cytology test picked up around 15 out of 20 women who had abnormalities.

BreastCheck will start inviting women for mammograms again in September.

However, it will be only able to provide mammograms to around half the previous 3,000 women a week because of the extra time involved due to Covid-19 procedures.

The unit on the grounds of St Vincent's Hospital is being reconfigured to allow for social distancing at its mobile units.