Don’t Fear the Smear- Marie Keating Foundation launches cervical cancer campaign

New research shows average Irish woman spend 3,285 minutes a year doing makeup as Marie Keating Foundation urges women to find time for five minute smear test

The Marie Keating Foundation today revealed the results of its Don’t Fear the Smear research which show while the average Irish woman spend 3,285 minutes a year doing her makeup, and 3,513 minutes a year doing her hair, an estimated 110,000 women have never attended for a smear test despite the fact that the test is free, quick and painless. However, two in three women (66%) say that smear tests are both ‘important’ and ‘necessary’ and over half (54%) say smear tests are now part of their health routine. The results of the Don’t Fear the Smear research highlight that younger women are more likely than women over 50 years of age to avail of the free CervicalCheck service. The Marie Keating Foundation launched its Don’t Fear the Smear campaign to urge women aged 25 to 60 to attend any of CervicalCheck’s 4,500 participating GPs and nurses nationwide for free, regular smear tests. Cervical cancer is the second most common female cancer in Europe. About 300 women are diagnosed in Ireland each year. However, the disease is preventable through regular smear tests. For further information, see


As part of the Marie Keating Foundation’s Don’t Fear the Smear campaign, the charity will be holding a free women’s networking breakfast, “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”, from 7.15am-9am on Thursday, 28 January 2016 in Eversheds, Dublin 2. The event is bringing together three inspiring women from diverse backgrounds:  Louise Morrisey, a manager for large customer sales, Google; Jennie McGinn, CEO and co-founder, Opsh; and Ellen Kavanagh, MD and co-founder, Waxperts. These women will join Shona Murray, foreign affairs correspondent, Newstalk, to talk about being brave and taking the next step in their careers, challenges and triumphs along the way and how deal with the never-ending quest for work-life balance. Also speaking at the event will be Dr Grainne Flannelly, a specialist in cervical health. The event is free but registration is essential. A complimentary breakfast will be provided by Glenisk. Visit to book a place.


Speaking at the launch of the Don’t Fear the Smear campaign, Helen Forristal, Director of Nursing Services, said, “A smear tests is the most effective way to detect changes in the cells of the cervix. Smear tests find pre-cancerous cells that can be easily removed so cancer never develops. It is vital for women to get regularly smears even if they feel perfectly healthy as pre-cancerous cells do not have any symptoms. All women aged 25 to 60 should go for regular smear tests every three to five years, regardless of whether they are single or married, gay or straight or going through the menopause.”


Amy Hamilton, a cervical cancer survivor, who was also speaking at the launch said, “Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers that there is. By going for a smear test every three to five years, you can protect yourself against one of the most common female cancers in Europe. It is quick, free and painless and it could save your life. There really is nothing to fear. Book your smear test today and get on top of your health.”


In its early stages, cervical cancer usually has no symptoms which is why smear tests are vital. Symptoms often do not begin until a pre-cancer becomes invasive cancer and grows into nearby tissue. Symptoms then may include abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex or after the menopause; unusual and/or unpleasant vaginal discharge; discomfort or pain in the pelvis; discomfort or pain during sex and lower back pain. These signs and symptoms can all be caused by conditions other than cervical cancer. However, women experiencing these symptoms should see their GP without delay.


Women can reduce their risk for cervical cancer by not smoking, practicing safe sex, and keeping a healthy weight. Parents should ensure that their daughters receive the HPV vaccine when they are in 1st year of secondary school. Having a regular smear test every three years between 25 and 44 and every five years between 44 and 60 is one of the most important steps a woman can take in reducing her risk of cervical cancer.


For more information on cervical cancer, cervical cancer screening and the Don’t Fear the Smear campaign, see