The Well Woman Centre has called for a national screening programme for cervical cancer to be put in place. 

The centre made the call after it was announced that a vaccine against cervical cancer is expected to be available in Ireland in four weeks time.

Doctors have described the development of the vaccine, known as Gardasil, as one of the biggest research successes of recent times. 

Details of the vaccine were disclosed at a medical conference in Prague earlier today.

The Medical Director of the Well-Woman Centre, Shirley McQuaid, said a national screening programme should be a priority.

Ireland has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in Europe with around 70 deaths from the condition each year. 

The vaccine will be administered in three doses over six months to girls aged around 12 years and will cost around €300 per course.

Dr Grainne Flannelly, Consultant Gynaecologist on the Medical Committee of the Irish Cancer Society, said the development was welcome but there were concerns about the cost of the treatment.