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Retesting Needed After Cancer Screening Misdiagnosis

The Icelandic Cancer Society has reexamined 6,000 cancer screening tests after it was revealed that a sample was misdiagnosed in 2018, RÚV reports. The woman whose test was misdiagnosed has incurable cervical cancer. Forty-five women have been asked to return to the clinic for further testing as a result, but the Cancer Society says that the misdiagnosis was an isolated incident and the individuals who have been called back in do not have such serious cases.

In the case of the woman whose sample was misdiagnosed, the test she took in 2018 should have detected cellular changes that indicate cancer. The Cancer Society issued a statement about the misdiagnosis, explaining that the employee who examined her sample had just returned to work from sick leave and it’s possible, although unconfirmed, that the employee‘s poor health contributed to the error in diagnosis. The employee resigned of their own volition some time ago.

The Cancer Society has since conducted a review of all the samples that the former employee examined. Some of the samples have been determined to warrant further analysis, but none of them are of such a serious nature.

Ninety per cent of cancers can be detected through regular screening, the Cancer Society maintains, but it does happen that cellular changes are sometimes not detected in screenings. This may be due to misdiagnosis, or it may be that the cancer develops within a short period of time. “A misdiagnosis does not automatically mean that there has been a mistake made,” reads the Cancer Society statement. The clinic also said that new equipment was put into use last year specifically to reduce the risk of human error in sample analysis and diagnosis and that ten per cent of all samples taken at the clinic are also reviewed by two different staff members.

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