Smear Tests and Cervical Cancer Negligence

3 Min Read

Doctor testing bloodSome women whose smear tests are clear are still diagnosed with cervical cancer. Being told you have cancer is devastating. Knowing the disease was avoidable is worse.

80% of smear tests should be accurate. This means that in most cases women should be able to rely on their smear test result. Where they have had several smear tests the risk of all the tests being wrong is very low.

There are several reasons why a test may be wrong. It may not show the abnormal cells because only a small sample of tissue is taken. The sample may not contain the abnormal cells. Or the cancer may develop in a part of the cervix the smear test cannot reach. Most cancers develop in what is called the ‘transformation zone’ and this is the area tested. But if they develop deeper inside the cervix the test may be clear. However the tests are usually reliable. In fact screening through smear tests has cut the number of women with cervical cancer.

Smear tests look for abnormal cells before they become cancer. Pre-cancerous cells are called ‘dyskaryosis’. Because cancer actually develops quite slowly, it is unusual to have several clear smear tests if the cancer is actually developing. Normally smear tests should find dyskaryosis before it becomes cancer. Sadly, there are some women whose smear tests are incorrectly reported, and this can lead to delays in their cancer being spotted.

Few women under 25 develop cervical cancer, and so screening is therefore only offered to women once they reach 25. They should then have tests every 3 years until they are 49. After 50 they should be tested every 5 years.

Spotting abnormal cells before cancer develops is important. It means that women do not have to have difficult and unpleasant treatment for cancer. That treatment can include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Some women lose their ability to have children because of their treatment. Others have unpleasant problems with their bowels after radiotherapy. Because the prognosis tends to be better the earlier cancer is diagnosed, spotting the cancer early may mean a better chance of cure.

Women have recovered damages where their cancer has been diagnosed late because of mistakes. These kind of claims are complicated and it is important to have the right legal advice. Enable Law’s experienced and sympathetic team of specialists have the skills needed, and they work hard to get the best results.

Telephone them on 0800 044 8488 if you think you may have a claim.