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cervical check

In an incredible breakthrough for cancer research, a female scientist from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) has reportedly found a complete cure for human papillomavirus (HPV).

The apparent cure would help to prevent the spread of cervical cancer among women. Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos, a Mexican scientist, claims to have eliminated the virus in 29 patients infected with HPV.

The report states that a team of researchers, led by Dr. Gallegos, treated the 29 women with non-invasive photodynamic therapy (PDT), which involves using a drug called a photosensitizer and a particular type of light to treat different areas of the body.

Dr. Gallegos had been studying the effects of photodynamic therapy for an amazing 20 YEARS to help tackle tumours such as breast and melanoma cancer, and specialised in the study of photodynamic therapy.

She treated 420 patients in Oaxaca and Veracruz, as well as 29 women in Mexico, with the technique. The repercussions from the treatment were promising; photodynamic therapy was able to eradicate the virus in all patients.

The virus was eradicated in 100 percent of those tested who carried HPV without premalignant lesions of cervical cancer using photodynamic therapy. The treatment was 64.3 percent successful in women with both HPV and lesions.

The therapy has no side effects, which is amazing as it doesn't do any damage at all to the body to have the treatment.

Dr. Gallegos said; “Unlike other treatments, it only eliminates damaged cells and does not affect healthy structures. Therefore, it has great potential to decrease the death rate from cervical cancer,” Radio Guama report.

HPV is a widespread virus from all over the world, with more than 100 variants. 14 of these variants can cause cervical cancer, a disease which is fast becoming a leading cause for death among female cancer patients.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Feature image: National Polytechnic Institute

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Emma Mhic Mhathúna’s funeral mass took place at Séipéal na Carraige, Baile na nGall yesterday. The family of the late mum honoured her following the service in the most emotional tribute.

Emma’s uncle John Moran delivered a moving speech outside the Kerry church. He spoke on behalf of Emma’s family to the media.

“The people of Ireland have really taken Emma into their hearts and all we want to say is thank you.”

“We loved her. We will miss her,” he continued.

“She was 37. She was the mother of five children. She did everything right.”

John stressed that Emma will forever be remembered in the most positive way. There’s no doubt the country will ever forget her witty sense of humour, her kind heart and passionate nature.

“As a family, we will remember her in the most fond, fond way,” he said.

He vowed to always look after Emma’s five children: “Our job from today is to make sure her five fantastic children are respected and grow to be lovely young adults.”

“The was a fantastic mother. She was a fantastic friend,” the grief-stricken uncle said.

“Today is a very sad day for us. Today is a day for celebration. We say goodbye to Emma and we say thank you to you,” he concluded.

The untimely passing of Emma has broken the hearts of the nation.

Photo: Dan Linehan

The mum is survived by her five children Natasha, Seamus, Mario, Oisin and Donnacha and her dad Peter.

Donations in lieu to Brother Kevin Crowley, Capuchin Day Centre, Bow Street, Dublin.

The family have asked the public to respect their privacy during this harrowing time.

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Emma Mhic Mhathúna has taken her final journey as her funeral took place in Kerry today.

The mum-of-five asked for her mass at Séipéal na Carraige, Baile na nGall to be given in Irish. It is understood the mum was deeply passionate about the native language.

Following today’s service, Emma’s remains will be removed to St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, where a mass will take place on the morning of Wednesday, October 10.

The mum will then be laid to rest in Maynooth, Co Kildare.

 

Video journalist Seán an tSíthigh posted a poignant photo of the mum’s coffin on Twitter captioned: “Emma Mhic Mhathúna, 37-year-old mother of five, begins her final journey & leaves the small fishing village of Baile na nGall.”

The untimely passing of the mum-of-five has broken the hearts of the nation, especially after how hard Emma fought for the women affected by the Cervical Check scandal.

Photo: Dan Linehan

Emma was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 after two smear tests showed incorrect results. The mum believed she would have beat the disease if she was diagnosed on time.

She was given a terminal diagnosis this May.

 

Her family thanked the public for the waves of support since news of Emma’s death broke on Sunday afternoon.

There’s no doubt Emma’s tireless campaigning and determined spirit will forever be remembered. Her family said they are grateful for the legacy she left behind.

“We take some comfort in the knowledge that Emma will be long remembered by the thousands of people who have been inspired by her fight for justice, transparency and improved services."

Emma was a true warrior. Our thoughts are with her children, family and friends during this harrowing time.

 

Feature Image: Seán Mac an tSíthigh

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The passing of Emma Mhic Mhatúna has been felt around the entire country since news of her death broke yesterday afternoon.

The untimely passing of the mum-of-five has broken the hearts of the nation, especially after how hard Emma fought for the women affected by the Cervical Check scandal.

Emma was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 after two smear tests showed incorrect results.

Fellow campaigner Vicky Phelan has paid tribute to Emma in a touching series of tweets.

“May you rest in peace now Emma. My thoughts are with your children who should not have to be facing into a future without you Xxx,” she wrote.

Vicky explained that she needed to take some time away from social media as tributes poured in for the 37-year-old.

She revealed that another woman affected by the Cervical Check scandal had passed away this weekend.

“Julie, who wished to remain anonymous, passed away in Dublin on Saturday morning and Emma passed away this morning.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Vicky extended her thoughts to Emma’s family, especially her five children who have been left without a mum.

“As I sit here in the quiet with only my thoughts and my husband and two children tucked up in bed, I am so very grateful to be alive and well. Yet, my heart breaks for two more families devastated by cervical cancer,” she wrote.

 

There’s no doubt Emma’s tireless campaigning and determined spirit will forever be remembered. Her family said they are grateful for the legacy she left behind.

“We take some comfort in the knowledge that Emma will be long remembered by the thousands of people who have been inspired by her fight for justice, transparency and improved services."  

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Emma Mhic Mhathúna has sadly passed away at the age of 37.

The mum-of-five died at University Hospital Kerry earlier this morning.

In 2016, Emma was diagnosed with cervical cancer after two previous smear tests showed incorrect results.

Emma settled her case against the HSE and the US laboratory, Quest Diagnostics in May 2018. She was awarded €7.5m.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Tributes have been pouring in for the inspiring mum who tirelessly campaigned for the women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.

She will forever be remembered for how hard she fought for justice following the CervicalCheck scandal.

Our thoughts are with Emma’s children, her family and her friends during this heartbreaking time.

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In a long-awaited report into the Cervical Check scandal, health expert Dr Gabriel Scally has commented on the state of the national cervical cancer screening service.

The author of the new report into the CervicalCheck debacle described it as so poorly run it was “doomed to fail” and said some of the treatment of women “bordered on misogynism,” according to the report.

The past number of months have been a time of great distress and pain for the 221 women who developed cervical cancer and the families of 18 women who have died – as a result of the failings of those involved in the programme. The scandal emerged after it was revealed that over 200 women had their cervical smear results audited by Cervical Check – but were never told of the discrepancies in these results.

“A whole-system failure” meant women were not told about an audit showing problems with past smear tests until after they were diagnosed with cancer. As a result, this meant they potentially missed out on earlier interventions.

Some women, such as Vicky Phelan, waited years to be told she had been misdiagnosed years earlier. She is now battling terminal cancer. 

The report also found that the suffering of the women and their families was "aggravated by some doctors."  

"The anger of many woman and families about how they have been treated in respect of disclosure is intense and raw,” Scally wrote. He used words such as inappropriate, unsatisfactory, damaging, hurtful and offensive to describe the manner in which some women were told about their results. 

He did say, however, that the continuation of cervical screening in the coming months was of crucial importance. “My scoping inquiry team has found no reason why the existing contracts for laboratory services should not continue until the new HPV regime is introduced.”He also added that he is satisfied with the quality management processes in the current laboratory sites used as part of the screening service.

Responding to the report, the HSE said they would respond to the report and those affected once they had time to "read and review it with care."

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The HSE has revealed that 221 women have been affected by the cervical screening scandal. They shared that the figure jumped from 209 to 221 after an additional 12 cases were confirmed.

HSE Director General John Conaghan shared the new figure with the Public Accounts Committee this morning.

It was also revealed that a review of the affected women’s smear tests has not yet started. The review of over 3,000 smear tests was meant to be completed by May.

The review will be carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians as well as the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.
It was also shared that nearly 40 women have taken a cases against the HSE. Only three cases have been settled so far.

There are currently 35 active cases against the HSE.

Terminally-ill Emma Mhic Mhathúna recently settled her case against the HSE and a lab in the US. The mum-of-five’s case was settled for €7.5 million.

Mum-of-two Vicky Phelan also settled her case for €2.5 million.

Both mums were given incorrect smear test results, delaying their cervical cancer diagnosis.

The Cervical Check controversy has affected thousands of women in Ireland. They were not informed about a clinical audit that was carried out on their results.

It is believed that some of the woman affected by the scandal could have benefited from an early diagnosis.

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It has been revealed that the BreastCheck screening programme will undergo an examination following the CervicalCheck controversy of the past months.

The Health Committee have expressed their concerns and believe that examining all screening programmes is an essential move.

The committee will meet with officials from the National Cancer Screening Service. It is believed that they will discuss the screening programme, and how to regain the public’s trust.

Understandably, many women are concerned about the countries' screening programmes after the CervicalCheck controversy, where there was a delay in diagnosing over 200 cervical cancer cases.

The committee is focused on regaining the public’s trust. Dr. Michael Harty, who is the chairperson of the committee said he hopes examining all screening programmes will help reassure the public.

He said: "We are concerned that the difficulties in communication that arose in CervicalCheck may also be replicated in the other screening services, so we want to look at BreastCheck in that regard.”

They will ensure that the BreastCheck programme is of the best and highest international standards.

He explained that breast cancer is more common than cervical cancer, so checking this screening programme is a main priority for the committee.

BreastCheck invite women aged between 50 and 69 to attend a mammogram every two years.

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An audit has revealed how 12 women may have died as a result of cervical smear testing errors, RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland reports.

It also showed that half of the 206 women affected by the inaccuracies were not told that they may have a delayed diagnosis. 

The report comes after Vicky Phelan's incorrect cancer result highlighted failings in the CervicalCheck programme. 

Her case came to light after the 43-year-old mother-of-two was awarded €2.5m by the High Court. The HSE had sought a confidentiality clause with Ms Phelan as part of the settlement, which she refused. 

Speaking on the Ray D'Arcy Show on RTÉ 1 over the weekend, Vicky revealed how Health Minister Simon Harris had called her to personally apologise for what had happened. 

"As soon as I heard the voice I knew who it was and he said 'hi Vicky, it is Simon Harris here'," Ms Phelan explained.

"'I just wanted to call you personally to apologise for what has happened to you but he also wanted to thank me for still encouraging women to go for smears and for promoting the Cervical screening programme' he said."

Meanwhile, pharmacist and Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell says she "would not be surprised" if more women died as as result of the scandal. 

"Five year undetected pre-cancerous cells, you're looking at 30-40% of the women not surviving," she said

"So if cervical cancer is not detected the outcomes are very bad. I expect that number to grow, quite frankly, I do expect it to be definitely double digits."

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A Dublin hair salon is encouraging women to go for smear tests by offering them free blow drys after their appointments.

Gillian Lee, owner of Mane Envy Hair in Baldoyle, says she will honour the promotion for one year in an effort to raise awareness of cervical cancer.

"I felt that as a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and as a woman, I had to do something to try and give others like me an incentive to make that smear test appointment,” she explained.

Making reference to her growing social media following, the salon owner revealed how she felt the need to use her platform "to do good and raise awareness".

The inspiration behind the incentive comes from Gillian's mother who, after going for a smear test, discovered a series of abnormalities and was later admitted for surgery. 

"Back in 2012, my own mother underwent an emergency hysterectomy following a series of abnormalities which showed up on her smear tests leading to minor surgery and then major surgery.»

"I believe she’s here and healthy today because she went for her free routine smear tests."

After seeing first-hand just how important regular smear testing can be, Gillian now want to encourage other women to get checked.

 

Evening ladies Gill here, As it approaches Mothers Day it always makes me think of Jade Goody and her two little boys she left behind , Its awful for me to say but ‘The Jade Goody Effect’ has worn off!! When Jade god rest her soul, was in the media there was an all time high of smears being booked in but NOW there’s an all time LOW!!! To think just 5 minutes at your local Doc surgery or well woman clinic could save your life Xx Please ladies, if this post and photo makes you think, please book a smear ASAP!!! And to encourage you even more Mane Envy will offer you a FREE blowdry no strings attached no hidden agenda just prove to us you have booked and attended your smear , note from the Doc or clinic an email confirmation anything , please let's share this post even if it makes just one woman go I'll be delighted xx #cervicalcancerawareness #getyoursmear #protectyourself #ManeEnvy4Smears

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"In fact, many women are alive today because of this wonderful free service and yet strangely some, including myself, don’t make the time to attend for their five-minute life saver. I want to appeal to women to please make that call today."

To avail of the incentive, women must produce a document stating they have had a smear, whether it is a doctors note, confirmation email or text.

For more information or to find a registered practitioner in your local area log on to cervicalcheck.ie.

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If you're 25 or older, you've probably had your first smear test by now under the Cervical Check programme.

But even if you're under that age, you've probably heard mutterings about the dreaded smear. So what's it all about? Well, first things first, it's definitely NOT as bad as it sounds.

Here's what you'll need to know about your first smear test, and what to expect if the results are abnormal.

Why do we need a smear?
A smear test, or a cervical screening, simply tests for changes in the cells at the neck of the womb (the cervix). The cells in your vagina are a different shape to those inside the womb, so the cervix's 'transformation zone' is where any changes will be detected.

Basically, if anything looks out of place, that's where it'll be.

If left unchecked, certain cell changes can develop into cervical cancer. As these changes happen slowly, cervical cancer CAN be prevented, which is why us ladies require cervical screenings at least every three years from the age of 25 onwards.

What happens during a smear test – is it going to be super-painful?
Super-painful? No. A bit uncomfortable? Yes.

First things first, you'll be given a few minutes to get undressed from the waist down. You'll be given a gown or a paper sheet to cover up with, and asked to hop up on the exam table.

You may be asked to place your heels in stirrups, or else just to scooch down to the bottom of the table. Either way, don't get embarrassed – the doctor or nurse sees vaginas of all shapes and sizes every day.

Every. Single. Day.

Now for the fun part – the actual test. A plastic device called a speculum is inserted into your vagina, simply for the purpose of holding it open a little wider. You can expect to feel some pressure down there.

Then, a swab or brush is used to remove a sample of cells from your cervix. This is no different to any mouth swab you may have had at the dentist before, except you may feel a slight pinch as the cervix is a little more sensitive.

The gown or sheet will mean you won't see what's going on, which definitely makes things far less scary. 

Afterwards, you'll be given a small pad to wear in case of any discharge or blood spotting, but otherwise you're fine to go about your business.

Can I forget about smears for three years after that?
If your results come back normal, yes. However, in many cases, an abnormal result may be found and you'll be called to your local hospital for a Colposcopy.

This basically a closer look at the cervix, for which the doctor will use a type of microscope (it doesn't go inside you), and may also apply some liquid dye to the area to help identify changes.

A colposcopy is nothing to worry about – abnormalities are extremely common and are taken as a very early warning that further changes MAY occur to the cells if left untreated. Being called back for a colposcopy does NOT mean that you have cervical cancer.

You'll be asked for a urine sample at the hospital, so be prepared for that.

Before your colposcopy, the doctor will explain exactly what's about to happen. As with the smear, you'll be asked to get undressed from the waist down before getting onto the exam table, and the speculum will be used.

If the doctor feels an even closer look is needed, another sample of cells will be taken from the area. This is called a cervical biopsy and at most you'll feel one or two pinches down there as it's taken.

If the area of abnormal cells is larger, the doctor may use local anaesthetic to avoid any pain for you.

What happens after a colposcopy?
As with the smear, you'll be given a pad to wear for the day. If you've had a cervical biopsy, there's a "nothing up there for one week" rule – so no sex, tampons, baths or swimming. Like with any small cut or wound elsewhere on your body, the cervix needs a little time to heal.

As well as some blood spotting, you may see some watery discharge that is sometimes grey in colour (because of the product used during the colposcopy). 

If the bleeding is heavier than a normal period, you should visit your GP as there could be some infection.

Lab results can take 6 – 8 weeks to come back. If they're normal, you'll be sent an appointment for another smear in a year's time. If any pre-cancerous cells are detected, you'll be called back in to have them lasered off – another procedure that we promise sounds FAR scarier than it is.

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Smear tests and all that follow might not be the most pleasant part of adult life, but they are oh-so important to preventing any health issues further down the line.

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Smear tests are so important for our health and peace of mind, but they’re definitely not something we look forward to. Like getting a filling at the dentist, or booking our next bikini wax, a smear test is something that all women anticipate with a certain sense of dread.

Although rarely painful, a smear test is usually somewhat uncomfortable. The process is a little bizarre too – a speculum (that strange duck-lips thing) is inserted into the vagina and a small cell sample is taken from your cervix using a specialised brush. Ew.

That’s why we were VERY happy to hear the news that a urine test could possibly be a viable alternative to a smear.

Researchers at the London School of Medicine and Dentistry compared the effectiveness of urine samples versus smear tests in detecting the presence of HPV – human papillomavirus, the virus that causes cervical cancer – and found that urine tests could be equally accurate.

More research is needed, but we’re hopeful!

For now though, doctors recommend a smear test every three years for anyone between the ages of 25 and 60. Luckily, smear tests are free for Irish women under the government-funded CervicalCheck programme – just contact your GP or local women’s health clinic for more information. 

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