Statement from 221+ Patient Support Group, HSE Validation Report

We welcome the publication of the final ‘221 Validation Report’ relating to those women impacted by the CervicalCheck debacle. This report, though not providing information on individual women, does present a clear picture of the various issues and complications, which have been experienced by this group of women.

The report confirms the most regrettable death of 21 of the 221 women and also confirms that 18 women are still in treatment for their cancer – with two of those in palliative care.

It is to be welcomed that 178 women are now showing ‘no evidence of active disease’. The report, however, rightly highlights the various serious issues, which this group of women must now live with. We quote directly from the report, “many women continue to be living with complications. Complications can be long-lasting and are not limited to the following: infertility, sexual difficulties, premature and sudden menopause, pain, bladder and kidney problems, incontinence, adhesions, and lymphedema7.

The side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy are on-going during and after treatment, e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, exhaustion, anaemia, itchy skin, stenosis8, weakened pelvic bones and lowered immune system making the individual more susceptible to infections”

The report also highlights the well-established fact that ‘Cervical cancer is a young woman’s disease and this was reflected in the age profile of the 221 women’. Some of these women and families must live with the possibility that if their treatment was managed differently, they might have avoided cervical cancer or at least the severe impact and consequences of a delayed diagnosis.

We take this opportunity to thank the HSE for allowing us to collaborate and work with them on drafting this report. And all our members will appreciate the HSE decision to provide them with a copy of the report in advance of publication, so as to afford them the time and space to absorb this sensitive information.

And finally we want to again stress the vital importance of undergoing the smear test. As this report highlights – ‘regular smear testing is the most important thing a woman can do to prevent cervical cancer’. As it is estimated that cervical screening can prevent 75% of cervical cancer cases, we urge women to continue to avail of the smear testing programme – it does save lives. We also stress the importance of the HPV vaccination and ask parents to consider this for their children as a prevention and protection for the future generations.

The ‘221 Validation Report’ can be viewed on the HSE website at

https://www.hse.ie/eng/cervicalcheck/screening-information/cervicalcheck-audit/report-data-validation-project-221-women.pdf

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For information contact: Wally Young, Young Communications – 087 2471520

7 Lymphoedema is swelling (oedema) that occurs as a result of damage to or the removal of lymph nodes and the lymph fluid will not drain properly. This causes the fluid to build up and the affected area will become swollen
8 Stenosis: Both EBRT and brachytherapy can cause scar tissue to form in the vagina. The scar tissue can make the vagina narrower (called vaginal stenosis), less able to stretch, or even shorter, which can make sex painful.

 

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