Smear audit post cancer

I was hoping to gain some clarity and reach out to anyone who has received similar news.
Last year I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was asked if it was ok for my precious smears to be audited to ensure they were completed correctly. This was part of service improvement

Today I received the results and I wish I never consented to it!
I’ve had 5 smears total. 1 led to the cancer diagnosis , 2 were obtained and have been rescheduled to be assessed correctly . 2 were obtained correctly by the nurse but incorrectly assessed by the lab.

So 2 separate smears 3 years apart showed high grade and they didn’t pick it up.

I feel like I’ve been given the information and i feel completely let down. Has anyone else had a similar experience?
I’m just not sure how to deal with it

Hi Gemma,

Firstly so sorry about the CC. I’ve seen other posts about audits - so do have a search on the forum. When you read reports on the smear system you will see that most of the time it is accurate, but some times it is not. The most likely reason for a smear being inaccurate is ‘operator error’ - in other words someone wasn’t experienced enough or a mistake was made. Yes, you were let down, sadly. I too was let down, and in my case I think it was avoidable - i.e. a different protocol would have helped me. I too was sent an audit form and told it would be investigated. This was in January 2021. I’ve heard nothing. I’ve written again - no reply. Contacted the central smear campaign - standard ‘thank you for your message’. I had 3 x ops for CIN 20 years ago. All smears clear since then, but in 2020 started post-menopausal discharge and bleeding and eventually (put off because of the clear smears) a colposcopy revealed cancer. It had advanced as well, and was Stage 3. The gynae I first saw quipped ‘well with all your scar tissue the smears were wrong, weren’t they’. Yes, I feel let down. If I had so much scar tissue I should have received regular colposcopies to check for problems. I’ve sat waiting for scans in front of those surgery posters telling us that if we just go for our smear checks, we won’t get cancer. Yes, maybe - if they are properly done and the best protocols are followed! I think we all have a right to feel let down. How to deal with it? I don’t know. I’ve felt angry, but that doesn’t help me recover. Will anything happen? I doubt it. In my case no-one has so much bothered to reply to my letters, I’m glad someone replied to you, and while it doesn’t help to know that errors meant your cancer went undetected, HOPEFULLY it will lead to some service improvement. Mine has gone into a black hole…

1 Like

By the way, I should have said I hope you’ve had your treatment and all is well and you’ve made a good recovery and - most importantly - are clear of cancer. X

1 Like

Hi Jacks

PALS might be able help with getting your audit results:

https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/hospitals/what-is-pals-patient-advice-and-liaison-service/

x

2 Likes