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The New Zealand Health Ministry commissioned an audit into the under-reporting of smears. Earlier, many women had their pathology results misread by a pathologist resulting in them developing cancer and in some cases, eventually dying. The screening program should have picked up these errors. The report found that the cervical screening program was up to standard and under-reporting was not deemed a problem. Pap smears are norotorious for their false negative readings and thus regular tests need to be done. The study found that 18% of re-read smear slides were found to be positive when they had initially been read as negative for high-grade abnormal cells. However, this was not considered a concern by authorities because the acceptable limit is 20%. The biggest drawbacks of the cervical screening program was found to be: regular screening occurred in only 20% of women; only 50% of women had had a smear within the 3 and a half years prior to diagnosis of cancer; diagnosis took more than 6 months after a first high-grade smear for 21% of Maori women and 10% of non-Maori women; cervical cancer death rate for Maori women is four times that of non-Maori.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by New Zealand Herald
About: Cervical screening problem deemed adequate but Maori still being under diagnosed
Date: 20 November 2004
Source: New Zealand Herald
Author: Martin Johnston
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