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02nd May 2018

Here are your options if you’re worried about your CervicalCheck smear test

Jade Hayden


This week, the HSE confirmed that 17 women died after they were incorrectly given the all-clear following smear tests with CervicalCheck.

15 passed away without knowing that they had been misdiagnosed by the service.

These women are among the 208 cases that experienced a delay in cancer detection meaning they could have missed out on early intervention.

This came after Vicky Phelan was diagnosed with cervical cancer three years after her 2011 test came back all-clear.

The Limerick mother-of-two now has terminal cancer.

Speaking on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, doctor and former Minister for Health James Reilly said that women who are worried about their cervical smears have two options.

The first is to have your existing smear tests results looked at again.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said today that every woman who has had a cervical cancer diagnosis in Ireland since screening began:

“… will now have screening history reviewed by a team of cytologists from UK’s Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and this will conclude by the end of this month.”

The second is to get a new smear test done for free.

However, the government have said that they are prioritising those who have been directly affected by the audit.

Senator Reilly also said that a newer HPV test is being introduced that will be 70 percent effective.

“We never said that they’re 100 percent effective,” he said. “But they do save lives and they do catch things.”

The HSE has since offered an apology for the concern caused due to the cervical screening programme and the audit process.

They said that they are working to uncover the details of what happened and are contacting all of the women who were affected.

They also specified that the audit was undertaken after the women were diagnosed.

“The Cervical Screening Programme did not withhold information from any woman that delayed their diagnosis of cancer,” they said.

“Rather the audit process of their previous smears was undertaken as a response to them having been diagnosed and of this being notified to CervicalCheck.”

CervicalCheck offers free cervical smears to all women between the ages of 25 and 60.

Over the last decade, the service has provided three million cervical checks to over 50,000 women in Ireland.

The most noticeable symptom of cervical cancer is vaginal bleeding. This usually occurs after sex, but bleeding during any time of the month when you are not menstruating is also unusual.

Other symptoms include increased vaginal discharge, pain during sex, and back and pelvic pain.

Over the past few days, the CervicalCheck InfoLine has received over 6,000 calls from concerned women.

The HSE says that they are prioritising women who were included in the audit. They are urging those who have normal screening test results to visit 

They said:

“Every effort is being made to ensure these calls are returned in the coming days and additional staff are now in place in the helpline to deal with the high volume of calls.

“Due to the number of calls received, we are prioritising those women who were part of the audit, and ensuring their calls are answered as a priority.”

Women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer since 2008 may have been included in the audit after their diagnosis.

Those who are concerned can contact the CervicalCheck InfoLine on 1800 45 45 55.

Women who are concerned or are experiencing symptoms are advised to talk to their GPs.