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Home » Latest News » Women with cervical cancer diagnosis urged to review previous tests

Women with cervical cancer diagnosis urged to review previous tests

Women with cervical cancer diagnosis urged to review previous tests

Many women don’t realise this, but when you are diagnosed with cervical cancer, you have the right to request that your previous screening results be reviewed to ensure they were correctly analysed and reported on at the time.

Cervical cancer can affect any woman at any time, and according to the NHS the group most at risk are sexually active women between the ages of 30 and 45. According to cervical cancer charity ‘Jo’s Trust’ there are “usually no symptoms associated with abnormal cervical cells and not all women diagnosed with cervical cancer experience symptoms”.

When symptoms do present they usually come in the form of vaginal bleeding. Other symptoms may include pain when engaging in sexual activity, unusual discharge, and, depending on the extent of the cancer, you may even experience lower back or kidney pain. If you experience any of these symptoms you should contact your GP immediately.

There are two main different types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. According to Cancer Research UK, between 70 to 80% of cervical cases develop from the squamous cell cancers. Adenocarcinoma is much less common, being typically found in just over 10% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

There are four different stages of cervical cancer:

Stage 1: this is the first stage. If the cancer is at this stage, it will be contained within the cervix and will not have spread. Statistics show that, with a diagnosis at this stage, around 95% of women will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Stage 2: within the second stage, the cancer is no longer contained within the cervix, i.e. it has spread outside of the cervix to the upper part of the vagina. For this stage, statistics show that more than 50% of women will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after the diagnosis.

Stage 3: the cancer will have spread into the surrounding tissues and cervix, as well as the pelvic sidewall. It will have also spread into the lower vagina by this point. For this stage, statistics show that almost 40% of women will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 4: this is type of cervical cancer which has spread considerably more– this will be located in nearby organs and parts outside of the pelvic area. For this stage, around 5% will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after being diagnosed.

The earlier the cancer is found, the easier it is to treat. Screening (also known as ‘smear testing’) is a very important part of helping to prevent cervical cancer and to detect it at the earliest possible stage. During these tests, cells will be taken from the cervix in order to be checked for any cancerous abnormalities – in other words, it checks how healthy the cervix is. Screening is normally offered to patients every 3 years (between the ages of 25 and 49), and every 5 years for patients thereafter.

Screening can identify types of cells that can later develop into cancerous cells meaning treatment can be far less invasive and preventative rather than responsive. Cervical screening saves thousands of lives ever year, but there are still 1.2million women who do not take up their invitation for testing. For the majority of women the results usually offer reassurance that everything is fine, however for one in twenty it shows changes in the cells, which, if undetected, could turn into cancer further down the line. The results speak for themselves when it comes to demonstrating the importance of smear tests.

Sadly, some women who attend regular screening appointments can receive incorrect results advising that everything is normal, when in fact, it is not. This can be due to an insufficient sample being collected or the sample of cells not being properly analyzed and reported on. Mistakes at an early stage can lead to cervical cancer being diagnosed later down the line when the patient develops symptoms or has another screening appointment. Although this is rare, it is something we see happen and unfortunately in these instances it means that a patient has missed the opportunity to have their cervical cancer diagnosed and treated at an earlier stage.

 Many women don’t realise this, but when you are diagnosed with cervical cancer, you have the right to request that your previous screening results be reviewed to ensure they were correctly analysed and reported on at the time. If it is discovered that a historic test could have been used to make an earlier diagnosis then you may be due compensation for any increased pain or suffering or loss of earnings caused by this delay in diagnosis.  We have helped many women get the answers they need as to why these mistakes occurred and how this could have made a difference to the treatment they have required and the long-term outcome for them.

 There may be other situations which lead to a delayed diagnosis of cervical cancer, for example if a woman has been seeking medical attention for symptoms that should have led to a referral and/or diagnosis earlier.

 If you have developed cervical cancer and you are concerned that there may have been a delay in your diagnosis and would like us to look into this for you then please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss this in more detail. We can support you to make a claim and ensure that the incident is reported to the appropriate healthcare watchdogs.

 Bridge McFarland LLP are experts in litigation surrounding medical misdiagnosis’ and delayed diagnosis’, give us a call to set up a meeting with a member of our team.