Thousands of smear test results are under review after at least 17 women were wrongly given the all-clear of cervical cancer by the NHS.
The health service is re-examining 2,500 samples originally sent out as negative, Pulse reported. Just 900 of the samples, taken between April 2016 and September 2017, have been checked so far, leading to fears that many more women were incorrectly told they are disease free.
Dozens of women, who were originally told their results were negative, are now being advised to contact their GPs after the "procedural issues" at the pathology site were discovered.
Of the 17 women whose screening results were confirmed as incorrect, two were told they have low or high-grade results and were advised to go to hospital urgently for further tests. The 15 other women had abnormal results.
The mix-up was found in Essex at a site run by Pathology First, which is jointly run by Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and private sector testing firm Integrated Pathology Partnerships.
The hospitals said women were only being contacted if their sample is not confirmed as negative during the re-examination. If issues are identified, the results could be changed from negative to either: inadequate (meaning the test failed and needs to be conducted again), borderline (which would require further testing for the human papillomavius and that the woman contacts her GP), low grade or high grade (meaning the result suggests an increased risk of developing cervical cancer and the woman should undergo a coloscopy).
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