The risks of delayed or misdiagnosis of cervical cancer
Medical Negligence

The risks of delayed or misdiagnosis of cervical cancer

4 minute read

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It often develops slowly, beginning with precancerous changes in the cervical cells called dysplasia.

If these abnormal cells are not treated, they can become cancerous and spread deeper into the cervix and surrounding tissues.

Regular screening plays a key role in preventing the development of cervical cancer

Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV can lead to cancer in the cervix. While many people may contract HPV without even knowing it because their immune systems fight off the infection, persistent infection can cause changes in cervical cells that may turn cancerous.

There are over 100 types of HPV, with about a dozen known to increase cancer risk. The HPV vaccine can protect against the strains responsible for the majority of cervical cancers. When abnormal cells are detected early, cervical cancer is highly treatable and less likely to become serious.

The HPV vaccine currently used in Ireland is called Gardasil 9. Over 100 million people have been fully vaccinated with Gardasil worldwide. This includes over 550,000 people in Ireland.

However, even if you have been vaccinated there is still a risk of contracting cervical cancer from HPV strains not targeted by the vaccine, it’s important to keep up with routine cervical screening smear tests.

Factors Contributing to Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis

  • Mistakes by clinicians during specimen collection
  • Errors by cytopathology laboratories in interpreting or reporting results
  • Physicians failing to recommend adequate follow-up testing on abnormal cervical screening smear results
  • A doctor’s failure to identify symptoms presented by a patient and conduct necessary follow-up testing.

Cervical cancer is one of the cancers that can be prevented the most easily. But when it’s missed, it is often because of human error, and which can really devastate a patient’s life.

When cancer isn’t caught early or is overlooked, it can progress to more advanced stages, making it much harder to treat. Advanced cervical cancer significantly lowers survival rates, further emphasising the importance of getting diagnosed accurately and promptly for better health outcomes.

If a sample isn’t collected properly, it could lead to a misdiagnosis of cervical cancer, whether it’s there or not. This could happen if the doctor doesn’t get enough cells or if they collect the sample in a way that could contaminate the results.

What are the time limits for a medical negligence claim in Ireland?

In Ireland, the time limit to file a medical negligence claim is two years minus one day from the date the injury is discovered. This could be right after the incident for some, while for others, it might take weeks, months, or even years to realise an injury or loss.

Symptoms of cervical cancer


Each year, more than 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. If you’re between the ages of 25 and 64, you are eligible for regular cervical screenings. You might also be scheduled for a smear test if you’ve shown any unusual symptoms. Key warning signs of cervical cancer include:

  • Unusual bleeding, such as between periods or after menopause
  • Pain or bleeding following intercourse
  • Changes in vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the lower back, hips, or lower abdomen

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor.

The role of a missed diagnosis claims solicitor in Ireland

We’re here to support individuals who have been wrongly diagnosed or experienced delays in diagnosing cervical cancer. Our role is to provide legal assistance and support, helping you pursue compensation for the suffering and harm caused by misdiagnosis.

If you require legal advice, you can learn more about our services at Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims, or Contact Us to arrange an initial consultation.

In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.


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