Misread Pap Smear Test Resulting in Late Stage Diagnosis
A diagnosis of cancer is a frightening and stressful experience for anyone. The last thing you want to have happen is to later realize that your suffering, both physical and emotional, could have been avoided. That has been happening to women who were diagnosed with cervical cancer: many are learning is misread pap smear is the reason their cancer developed into a life-threatening illness. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cervical cancer, this page may provide you with more information about how pap tests are evaluated and how misread pap smears occur. Our attorney team believes that women who have suffered from cervical cancer without a prior abnormal pap smear reading may be eligible for significant compensation by filing a claim.
How Do Pap Smears Work?
Pap smears are routine tests that are conducted on healthy, sexually-active women at prescribed intervals throughout their adults lives. They are typically conducted in conjunction with a pelvic exam, by simply swabbing the cervix to obtain sample cells. The cells are then reviewed under a microscope. If any abnormal cells are detected, further testing will typically be conducted to discover the nature of the abnormal cells.
In some cases, irregular cells (such as atypical glandular cells or atypical squamos cells) may or may not be cancerous and require further monitoring in the future. Other irregular cells (such as squamos cell cancer and squamos intraepithelial lesion cells) may already be cancer or may develop into cancer at some point in the future. When in doubt, atypical cells can be removed to reduce the threat of cancer development.
Most cervical cancers develop slowly over the course of years, and can be easily treated when caught in precancerous or early stages. Early detection is possible through routine pap smear testing, which enables providers to identify precancerous cells that may pose a risk for cervical cancer and monitor or remove the threat.
Misread Pap Smears
Pap smears have three possible results: normal (the cervical cells appear to be healthy); uncertain (requiring further testing), and abnormal (requiring either further testing or a procedure to remove the risk). In some cases, women receive “normal” results when in fact precancerous or cancerous cells are present.
Known as a “false negative” this test result gives a false assurance that the patient does not have or will not develop cervical cancer. Depending on her age and how many “normal” pap smears she has had previously, she may not undergo another pap smear for 2, 3 or even 5 years. During this time, undetected precancerous or cervical cancer cells can develop and spread.
Simply put, a misread pap smear can make the difference between life and death. When precancerous cells are detected, they can be removed through a relatively simple procedure. Once cervical cancer is present, the patient may require a full hysterectomy. If the cervical cancer has spread to other areas of her body, chemotherapy and radiation may be required.
Why Pap Smears are Misread
There are many reasons for a misread pap smear or misdiagnosis of cervical cancer, and most of them are preventable. However, some risk for misread pap smears is now institutionalized into pap smear analysis procedures, according to critics. New methods that utilize technology to create shortcuts for lab technicians mean only a sampling of each pap smear slide is reviewed by human eyes. If the sampling does not contain an area featuring irregular cells, the pap smear result will be incorrect. In many cases, physicians are never laying eyes on pap smear slides and technicians face a rushed atmosphere that demands efficiency in processing the tests.
Any woman who has been diagnosed with active or advanced stages of cervical cancer may wonder if a misread pap smear prevented early detection of her disease. Our attorneys handling claims for misread pap smears are available to consult on legal options.
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