Opportunities to diagnose cancer

Latest review into CervicalCheck scandal
  • Deborah Condon

A review of CervicalCheck carried out by the UK's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has found that there were missed opportunities to prevent or diagnose cancer earlier in 159 cases.

The review had examined the screening histories of 1,038 women who were screened by CervicalCheck since 2008, 1,034 of whom had gone on to develop cancer.

Overall, it found a different cytology result from the original CervicalCheck result in 308 cases. However, in 159 of these cases, there were missed opportunities to prevent or diagnose the disease earlier.

Despite this, the RCOG review found that the figure of 308 is in line with those seen in the English screening programme and it concluded that women can have confidence in the CervicalCheck programme.

"The report finds the CervicalCheck programme is working effectively and crucially, that women can have confidence in the programme.

"The CervicalCheck Programme has faced a difficult and uncertain period over the past 18 months. The findings and conclusions contained in this review should provide reassurance and assist in restoring confidence in our programme and address its importance and quality, as well as the limitations of all screening programmes," commented the Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

However, concerns have been raised by some about the RCOG review in relation to apparent inaccuracies and omissions, including the mislabeling of slides.

Lorraine Walsh of the 221+ patient support group has resigned as one of the patient representatives of the CervicalCheck steering committee after she learned that some information being given to the HSE by the RCOG was inaccurate, including information relating to her own case.

Speaking on RTÉ's Primetime on Tuesday night, she explained that she received two reports from RCOG just 24 hours apart - one stating her slides were concordant, and one stating they were not.

She said as late as October, over 500 reports had to be returned to the RCOG due to inaccuracies.

Ms Walsh said that she still believes in the screening process, however she does not have confidence in the RCOG report. She called on the Government to fund an independent assessment for each woman "so that they can get the truth".

The RCOG review can be viewed here.


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