Published Friday, 24 January 2014
Women are being urged to attend their smears regularly. (© Getty)
During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which runs until Saturday, women are being reminded that attending regular appointments could literally save lives.
Sinead McConnellogue, a mother of one from Londonderry, was diagnosed with cervical cancer six years ago, and has now made a full recovery.
She told UTV that being diagnosed at just 29, was shocking.
"It was a lot to take in, it was a lot for the family as well to take in.
"I had a 12-year-old daughter at that time, so [I felt] just fear, fear initially, as well you just don't know what's ahead of you."
Sinead said that she'd had an irregular smear and was due to attend an appointment six months later, but this did not take place until nine months had passed. By that stage, she was at stage two of the disease.
Emphasising the importance of attending appointments, she said that when she was diagnosed she did not know much about cervical cancer.
"You do think 'This has happened to me!'" she said, admitting she was totally shocked. "But it can happen to anyone."
"I learned to accept it and battle on and I fought on."
Doctor Ian Harley, consultant gynaecologist, said: "In Northern Ireland, about 75 percent of the target population attend for their smears so there is a high number of women who do not attend.
"And what we find is that patients actually with cervical cancer, frequently, they haven't attended for their smears within the last five to ten years and if they had, their disease could have been prevented.
"It may be uncomfortable to have a cervical smear but it only takes a couple of seconds, 20 seconds to do and it can have a significant impact on your long term health and you should attend for your smears on a regular basis."
© UTV News