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vicky phelan

'I'll live with cancer for the rest of my life': Woman given wrong smear test results speaks out

Vicky Phelan received incorrect smear test results in 2011. She was subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014.

A TERMINALLY ILL woman who was awarded €2.5 million in the High Court today after being given incorrect smear test results has said the money will “buy her time”.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Ray D’Arcy Show, Vicky Phelan, aged 43, detailed how she was incorrectly told that she was cancer free in 2011.

She said that she went for a routine smear test back in 2011 and was told her results came back normal.

However, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014. She was given just 12 months to live.

An audit was done of smear tests of women who were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 and Phelan’s 2011 test was rechecked. It was determined that she did, in fact, have cancer in 2011. She received the news in September.

“When my gynaecologist told me about this audit, I was still cancer free… I was very shocked and angry to think that I had cancer going back to 2011 but at the time I had other stuff going on,” Phelan said.

She said “the whole picture changed” two months later when she was diagnosed with cancer again.

Phelan said that a gynaecological expert determined that “if she had been diagnosed in 2011, there would be a 95% chance she would have been cured then”.


Phelan today settled a High Court action against a US laboratory for €2.5 million, according to RTÉ.

€700,000 worth of the money will be placed in a trust fund for her two children, aged 12 and seven.

Phelan said that the rest of the money gives her options for treatment.

“There’s still no cure for my cancer. Unfortunately, I don’t see the day, unless a breakthrough comes in the next couple of years, where I’m going to be able to say I’m cured,” she said.

I think I’m going to have to live with this cancer for the rest of my life. So, it’s buying me extra time, extra time with my family. It’s something I’m always going to have to have treatment for and it’s expensive.

Phelan started a new clinical trial drug last month, however, it has not been determined yet whether it is effective.

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