Misreading a Positive Pap Smear Test is a Leading Cause of Cervical Cancer Deaths

It is just as important to get a second opinion if your Pap Smear test comes back negative

Cervical Cancer Lawsuit News

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - Most medical patients breathe a sigh of relief when their cancer or medical tests come back to the doctor negative. Such is not the case for cervical cancer pap smear tests and as a matter of fact, just the opposite may be true.

The purpose of a Pap smear test is to check for abnormalities in the cells of the cervix. A positive test does not necessarily mean that a woman has cervical cancer. It does mean that more testing is required and should be done at once. It is up to a woman's gynecologist to take the initiative to determine if the positive results of the test detect pre-cancer cells or give a diagnosis of cervical cancer.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a leader in evaluating pap smear cancer testing focusing on "diagnosing, evaluating, and managing gynecological cancers." Clinicians at the institute are experienced in the analysis of pap smear testing as well as in treating hundreds of cervical cancer patients each year. The group not only serves patients directly but also provides expert "second opinion." Due to Pap smear testing labs being overworked and failing to provide proper test readings, getting a second opinion should include when a patient tests negative. A false negative Pap smear test reading is the leading reason women die from cervical cancer, an extremely treatable disease, each year. About 5000 women die from a delay in treatment due to a misread cervical cancer Pap smear test. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute provides diagnostic and evaluative services for those diagnosed with pre-cancer or cervical cancer, high HPV risk patients, follow-up testing for an abnormal yet non-cancerous test, and long-term post-treatment care.

Cervical cancer is the only gynecological cancer that can be detected with testing called a Pap test. During a Pap test, the cervix is brushed with a device inserted into the vagina designed to rotate and extract cells from the surface tissue. The sample is then sent away to pathologists at a testing lab where it is analyzed for abnormalities and returned to the gynecologist.

Early diagnosis is the key to successfully treating cervical cancer. When a diagnosis of cervical cancer is confirmed, more testing is required to establish whether or not cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Types of testing for the spread of cervical cancer include PET/CT scans, ultrasound examination, magnetic resonance imaging, and fine-needle aspiration. Most of these tests review the areas around the cervix such as the pelvis and abdomen, take less than an hour to perform, and are painless. The various stages of cervical cancer are stage 0, a detection of pre-cancerous cells, stage 1, cancer limited to the cervix only, and stages 2 through 4 indicating the degree to which cancer has spread. Advanced stages of cancer are life-threatening and require dangerous anti-cancer chemotherapy treatment with all of the associated side effects.

The good news is that cervical cancer has a 92% five-year survival rate when detected early. Getting a second opinion when your pap smear test comes back negative could save your life due to early detection.

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