This message is directed primarily towards woman who have attended the Rotunda Hospital colposcopy clinic for investigation and/or treatment of an abnormal smear.

If you are worried about a smear result, but have not attended the Rotunda Colposcopy Clinic, please call the CervicalCheck Helpline 1800 45 45 55 or go to www.cervicalcheck.ie

Below are the some of the common questions that have been asked by women who are worried because of the recent controversy. We appreciate that the current, almost daily media attention related to the cancer audit has caused a significant degree of anxiety and concern for our patients who have attended the colposcopy clinic. If you have specific concerns, please phone the clinic and we will discuss your concerns. However, we have had such a high number of calls over the last three months with general patient concerns and queries that it is now negatively impacting on our ability to provide efficient service to high risk patients who urgently need to access our regular colposcopy service.

Before calling the clinic, we would be grateful if you could review the FAQs below as it is possible that you may find an answer to your particular query.

I have had a treatment for an abnormal smear, do I need to worry?
We wish to reassure women who have been referred to our clinic with an abnormal smear. The treatment of women who have been referred to colposcopy clinics with abnormal smears has not been called into question and you can be reassured that we have met all the Quality Assurance standards expected of us. The Rotunda Colposcopy Service is separate to the CervicalCheck service and the well-publicised issues relating to communication around potential false negative smear results do not relate to the Rotunda Colposcopy Service.

Should I be worried about the smears that were done since I have had my treatment?
If you have had treatment for an abnormal smear and are currently under the care of the Rotunda Hospital, you should not worry about a high probability of a false negative smear result or undiagnosed cancer. This is because the smears that are done in the Rotunda after your treatment are processed in Dublin, and in recent years have always include an additional HPV test in the 6 and 18 month smears following treatment. This additional HPV test greatly reduces the incidence of false negative results. Women who have an abnormal smear or HPV test following a treatment (LLETZ or Cold Coagulation) are always called back to the clinic and have a repeat colposcopy examination with a biopsy if indicated.

I was referred with an abnormal smear but did not need treatment.
Women referred with high grade smears are invariably treated immediately. If a woman has a low grade smear and the colposcopy and biopsy confirm only a mild abnormality (CIN1), we generally advise observation rather than immediate treatment. We usually wait for 12 months and then repeat the smear and an additional HPV test. We do this because the chance of developing invasive cancer within one year is extremely low in women with mild abnormalities such as CIN1. Furthermore, this mild abnormality will disappear in a significant number of cases over the subsequent 12 months. This strategy allows us to avoid unnecessary treatments in young women. We know that there may be a potential risk of preterm labour in a small number of women following LLETZ treatment, so we try to avoid this treatment unless it is essential.

I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. How do I know that I am not one of those who had a false negative smear years before I was referred to the Rotunda?
In late April 2018, CervicalCheck informed the Rotunda of the names of 11 women with cervical cancer who were found to have a false negative smear several years before their referral to the Rotunda. We have personally spoken to all of these women. If you did not receive a personal phone call on in early May, you can be reassured that your name was not on the list supplied to us by CervicalCheck.

Should I go to my GP and ask for a repeat smear test?
If you have been treated by LLETZ or Cold Coagulation in the last 2 years, you have no cause for concern as your Test of Cure smears will also have included the additional HPV test. If both of your Test of Cure smears were negative, you will have been discharged back to your GP for a smear in three years. Women who have been treated more than two years ago were instructed to have a smear every year for 10 years. This strategy reduces significantly the chances that a false negative smear may have been present.

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