Flaws found in smear tests

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The Independent Online
HEALTH officials in Mid Glamorgan are urgently seeking about 100 women to return for repeat cervical smear tests after a hospital inquiry revealed flaws in the running of the pathology laboratory.

The women were all screened between 1992 and 1993, and had abnormal smear results. There are fears that their risk of cervical cancer may have been greater than those results indicated.

Initially it was thought that 16,000 women in Merthyr Tydfil and Cynon areas who were screened in 1992 and 1993 would have to be recalled when problems became apparent last month during a quality control check of the laboratory's work. But independent checks on a random sample of 2,000 slides have shown that the number of negative smears was within national guidelines.

Kelvin Redwood, general manager of the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, yesterday reassured all women who had received negative smears that no further action was necessary.

The problem was limited to the classification of abnormal smears, he said, and doctors believe that some of the women in this category may have had more serious changes in the cervical cells than was recorded at the time.

Mr Redwood said most of the women have been recalled and retested, but he added: 'We still need to recall about 100 women from that period so that they can be screened again. We would urge them to respond to our requests that they come in for a recheck.'

He said cervical screening procedures at the hospital had been tightened up to give a 'first class system . . . Smears reported since January this year are of the highest quality'. The local Family Health Service Authority has set up a committee to monitor the organisation of cervical smear tests at the hospital.

Doctors have told women who need retesting that they should not worry 'unduly,' as cancer can take a long time to develop.