Women in Donegal may have received incorrect smear results

Kenny Tucker
April 30, 2018

Mrs Phelan, who now has cervical cancer and has been told she only has months to live, was not told about the misdiagnosis until 2017, despite CervicalCheck becoming aware of the misdiagnosis three years earlier in 2014, according to an audit.

A week ago the High Court heard the spread trial of 24 May 2011 demonstrated no anomaly was distinguished and Ms Phelan was prompted by letter in June 2011 the spread test recognized no variations from the norm.

The move follows a "cytology review" which suggested the first result was incorrect.

Ms Phelan (43), from Annacotty, Co Limerick, has terminal cervical cancer after her smear test failed to pick up abnormalities.

She settled her High Court action against a USA laboratory for €2.5m on Wednesday.

The cervical screening test is sensitive and the nature of screening is not diagnostic, so tests can not always confirm the presence or absence of pre-cancerous changes.

After approving the settlement, Mr. J Cross turned to face Ms. Phelan and said: "if anyone can beat this, you can".

She had another smear test in June 2014 and when it was sent off for analysis it showed a high grade lesion and Ms Phelan was referred to a consultant.

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About 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the United Kingdom, according to the NHS.

She claimed there a number of cases in Donegal where women have been told their smears were clear when that was not the case and women have developed cancer.

They said in a statement: "The HSE Serious Incident Management Team (SIMT) which was established on Friday 27th April 2018 met today on two occasions in order to progress further a full review of 206 cases within the CervicalCheck Programme".

It said cervical screening cannot prevent all cancers and while regular screening can detect pre-cancerous changes early, "however screening tests are not diagnostic in nature and cannot always indicate the presence or absence of pre-cancerous changes".

"It has helped reduce the cervical cancer rate nationally at a rate of 7% per year".

"Despite this, cervical screening represents one of the most effective ways to prevent cervical cancer".

The professor, who it was understood would remain in her position up until last night despite Minister for Health Simon Harris expressing he had no confidence in the CervicalCheck management, announced her decision in a statement from the HSE on Saturday night.

"Despite these achievements, every diagnosis of cervical cancer is one too many and we acknowledge the impact of this disease on women and their families".

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