Women in Donegal may have received incorrect smear results

Vicky Phelan

Vicky Phelan

The issue was brought to light this week following the tragic case of Vicky Phelan.

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

Vicky Phelan was determined to have cancer three years after her spread test consequences of 2011 were mistakenly detailed as clear of variations from the norm.

She was diagnosed with cervical cancer around the same time, but she only found out about that review past year.

Speaking on Highland Radio, Jolene McElhinney said: "What appears to have happened in these (Donegal) cases and there's a similar thread running through all the cases, is that the smears are undertaken, they are reported upon, and the individual is told they are clear, whereas in fact there are abnormal cells".

Simon Harris has confirmed that the State will facilitate repeat smear tests for women.

A CervicalCheck helpline has gone live today to help those with concerns over smear tests and the national screening programme.

"CervicalCheck have identified and have contacted a number of individuals and have notified them that there was incorrect reporting of their original smears".

Responding to the controversy, the Irish Cancer Society extended its sincerest sympathies to Ms Phelan and her family.

Asked if any of the women had died, she said: "This is not information kept by CervicalCheck".

A High Court action taken by Ms Phelan and her husband Jim Phelan against the Health Service Executive and Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, began last week.

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".

"Figures from National Cancer Registry Ireland show that the cervical cancer rate in Ireland has reduced significantly as a direct result of the CervicalCheck programme".

"A cancer diagnosis is one of the most, if not the most, hard experiences a person and their family can deal with".

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