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Chance to identify 159 women’s cancer was missed

An opportunity to identify 159 women’s cervical cancers was missed by CervicalCheck , an independent review of the programme has found.

This represents 15 per cent of the 1,038 women who participated in the review led by the UK-based Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

It also found that 12 women died as a result of their original cervical cancer smear missing an opportunity to prevent their cancer or diagnose it earlier.

In a further 15 per cent of cases, involving 149 women, the review panel disagreed with the original CervicalCheck reading of smear tests but said they did not believe this had an adverse impact on their health outcome.

In total, the review found a discordant result in one-third of case they reviewed, 308 out of 1,034 women.

However, the overall pattern of discordance found by the review is similar to that found in a much larger slide review of cervical cancer cases in England, according to RCOG.

The review also looked at colposocopy management, and found this was sub-optimal in a quarter of cases, “such that an opportunity to prevent cancer or to diagnose it at an earlier stage was missed”.

Lead assessor Prof Henry Kitchener said it was important to recognise cervical screening cannot prevent all cases of the disease. “The findings of the slide review are in line with the patterns of discordance reported in the English audit of cervical cancer and are not in themselves a cause for concern.”

“The detailed scrutiny of colposcopy did identify where management of abnormal smears could have been better, and this reinforces the need for vigilance adherence to CervicalCheck clinical practice guidelines.”

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