Saturday 7 December 2019

'Missed opportunities': Major CervicalCheck slide review published

  • Twelve women who received wrong test result are dead from a cervical cancer that could have been prevented or diagnosed sooner - report
  • 308 women diagnosed with cervical cancer in total received wrong smear tests under CervicalCheck
  • For 159 of these women, a correct result could have prevented them getting cancer or having it diagnosed earlier
(David Davies/PA)
(David Davies/PA)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Twelve women who received a wrong test result from CervicalCheck are dead from a cervical cancer that could have been prevented or diagnosed sooner.

308 women who were diagnosed with cervical cancer in total received wrong smear tests under CervicalCheck, a major report revealed today.

But in the case of 159 of these women, a correct result could have prevented them getting cancer or having it diagnosed earlier, reducing severity and improving their chances of survival.

It amounted to "missed opportunities".

One third had late stage disease and 12 of this group are now dead.

106 of the cases were a failure to prevent cancer and, in the other cases, it could have been caught earlier.

Another 27 women who were referred for investigation after a test and received sub-standard colposcopy care could also have been spared of cancer.

The findings of a review of 1,034 women's slides, some of whom are deceased, was carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK.

The report, commissioned by Health Minister Simon Harris following last year's CervicalCheck scandal also found that in the case of the 27 women who underwent colposcopy investigation, the clinical management was sub optimal.

It meant that an opportunity to prevent cancer or diagnose it earlier was missed.

Prof Henry Kitchener, lead assessor, said today the overall discordance rate, where the review disagreed with the original test result, was similar to that found in the screening programmes in England.

70pc of the women were diagnosed with stage one cervical cancer.

There’s is no country in the world where screening prevents every cancer.

He said Ireland is not an outlier in terms of failures of screening.

It recommended that there be full disclosure of any audit findings to women.

Every woman who develops cancer should have her test results reviewed by CervicalCheck.

The briefing on the report was not attended by members of the 221 group, the women who were at the centre of last week’s scandal over the methods used in the review.

Sixty women from the 221 group took part in the review.

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