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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019

Our Lady's review finds 'no further discrepancy' after woman incorrectly told she didn't have cancer gene

The case of this woman who is now gravely ill with cancer was an isolated event, according to the hospital’s review.

Image: Leah Farrell/

A REVIEW CARRIED out at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin has found no other cases where a patient was given the wrong information over whether they had a gene that increased their risk of developing cancer.

“No further discrepancy was identified in communicating the correct result to a patient’s referring consultant,” the hospital said in a statement this evening.

The precautionary review was undertaken after a woman who is now critically ill with cancer was previously told she had tested negative for the BRCA1 gene.

The details of the case were reported in The Sunday Times last weekend.

The woman was told in 2009 that she had tested negative for the BRCA1 gene. Someone who tests positive for this gene is at a higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

Her doctors were told last month that she in fact had tested positive for the gene. Women who test positive for the gene often take steps to further mitigate the risk of developing cancer, a well-known example of which was actress Angelina Jolie choosing to have a double mastectomy.

The woman’s solicitor told the newspaper that her client is now in a “grave situation” and wants the HSE to organise a review of all of the BRCA tests carried out at Crumlin.

Health Minister Simon Harris was understood to have sought assurances that this error hadn’t happened in other cases. 

The hospital this evening sought to reassure patients on the back of this review.

“We want to offer reassurance to all patients who have undergone genetic consultation at OLCHC that there is no concern regarding the accuracy in communicating the correct result of their positive Diagnostic Genetic BRCA test,” it said. 

We wish to reiterate that there is no concern regarding the accuracy of the BRCA test itself, regrettably the error occurred in communicating the test result. For completeness, and based on the findings of this review, the next phase is to audit the accuracy of correspondence to patients who had a negative Diagnostic Genetic BRCA test result.

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