Women in Donegal may have received incorrect smear results

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During the week, the Fine Gael TD announced that he is now organising for repeat smear tests to be arranged free of charge following the recent news that several cases of cervical cancer have gone misdiagnosed.

The 206 women whose smear tests were misread should have been referred on for further investigation, including an invasive diagnostic procedure or repeat smear, which could have picked up their cancer and led to earlier treatment.

"During this time she has helped to introduce a programme that has saved the lives of countless women in Ireland through screening and early intervention and who would otherwise have died from cervical cancer", it said.

Viewers at home were shocked at Miss Phelan's story but also inspired by her courage in not backing down against the programme which reportedly gave her the wrong results.

The state's decision to deny a duty of care in this case to Ms Phelan's husband could indicate the state's future stance towards the families of other women, including the spouses of women who may have passed away from cervical cancer.

In 2011, Vicky Phelan was told there were no abnormalities found in the smear sample sent to Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc.in Austin, Texas.

The cervical screening test is sensitive and the nature of screening is not diagnostic, so tests can not always confirm the presence or absence of pre-cancerous changes.

Ms Phelan told the programme that Mr Harris had called her personally to apologise.

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Simon Harris has said he does not know how many women may have died from the recent cervical smear controversy.

She told the HSE of her intention to resign saying she was sorry that recent events caused distress and worry to women.

She claimed there a number of cases in Donegal where women have been told their smears were clear when that was not the case and women have developed cancer.

According to the HSE, nearly 1,500 cases of cervical cancer have been notified to the cervical screening programme, CervicalCheck, since it began a decade ago.

A smear test is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix.

"Despite this, cervical screening represents one of the most effective ways to prevent cervical cancer".

The HSE said it wished to acknowledge Professor Flannelly and to formally thank her for "the enormous dedication, contribution and expert knowledge" that she brought to the CervicalCheck Programme over the past 12 years.

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