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Of 4,500 repeat smear tests that expired, 2,500 have been retested

Around half of the women who were offered the option of a retest have taken it up.

Image: Shutterstock/Komsan Loonprom

THE HSE HAS said that 2,572 smear tests have been rechecked, after 4,500 women were offered to be retested after their samples weren’t examined within the recommended time frame. 

The US laboratory examining the slides has assured that the results of the smears that have been rechecked will be reported back in the next two weeks. Over 200 results have been reported in the last week, the HSE said.

On 31 January, CervicalCheck wrote to 4,459 women inviting them to have a repeat smear test. These were HPV smear tests, which is an additional process carried out on low-grade abnormality samples identified in the original cervical smear test.

The rechecks were needed after the slides weren’t examined within the recommended timeframe by the US laboratory Quest Diagnostics CervicalCheck.

The HSE said that “while CervicalCheck’s clinical team was and is assured that these HPV tests are likely to remain effective outside the manufacturer’s recommended timeframe and that the risk of incorrect results is low, in order to provide complete reassurance we invited these women to attend for a repeat smear test”.

Since 8 February, 2,572 repeat smear test samples have been received incrementally by Quest Diagnostics.

“While we are aware that the establishment of the ICT system for dealing with these tests took longer than anticipated, Quest are confident that remaining results will be reported to women within the next two weeks.”

Separately, a backlog in CervicalCheck smear tests has led to the waiting time for results to be extended from 2-4 weeks to over 20 weeks.

This article has been corrected to reflect that there aren’t ~2,000 smear tests waiting to be checked – instead just 2,572 women have accepted the offer of a retest, of the total of 4,459 to whom the offer was extended.

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