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Q.

Sister had normal papsmear in 2010. Feb 2012 diagnosed with 3b cervical cancer, died July 30. Papsmear reliability?

My sister was 52 at the time of her death.  She was a smoker.  My other sister also had cervical cancer but had a colposcopy and then 10 years later a hysterectomy.  A familial connection?

 

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Primary Care
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A.

I am so sorry to hear about your sisters. Yes, there most definitely may be a familial connection with cervical cancer in your family. This is all the more reason for you to have regular pap smears....pap smears taken and processed properly.

 Pap smears are reliable, but they are only as good as the skill of the person getting the cell specimen, the skill of the lab processing the sample, and the skill of the pathologist reading the slides. If you think that pathologist may have missed it on your sister's last pap, perhaps it would be good to obtain them (the orginal slides or microphotographs) should be kept on file a the pathology facility. Her next of kin may have to request them officially, but I do not see why another, independent pathologist cannot re-read them. Mistakes have been made before, I can assure you.

Reviewing these slides will not bring back your sister, as you know, but it may help you with closure, and give you a bit more confidence with your own pap smear tests. If a cancer was missed, this would be a serious malpractice situation.

 

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