From Iceland — Woman With Cervical Cancer Symptoms Denied Treatment

Woman With Cervical Cancer Symptoms Denied Treatment

Published June 30, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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A woman who displayed symptoms typical of cervical cancer—including cell changes and post-coital bleeding—will not have her cell sample examined despite repeated requests from her gynecologist, Vísir reports. This decision was taken by Kristján Oddsson, head of the Cancer Screening Coordination Center, on the grounds that the requisite one-year waiting period between samples had not yet elapsed.

Karen Eva Helgudóttir was originally screened last summer due to spontaneous bleeding, and the results showed that there were some mutations to her cervical cells. She was told to get screened again a year later.

However, due to the bleeding, she went to a gynecologist about a month ago, who agreed with her that October would be too long to wait for another screening. A sample was taken and sent to the Cancer Screening Coordination Center, but the gynecologist was informed that the sample would not be examined as a year had not yet passed. The gynecologist was further advised to familiarise themselves with the cervix cancer guidelines of the Directorate of Health.

In email exchanges between the gynecologist in question, Þórður Óskarsson, and Kristján, Þórður expressed great frustration at this decision, saying in part that his patient showed every sign of having cancer, closing, “Do you have nothing further to do then to maintain this ridiculous stance?”

To make matters worse, Karen Eva is pregnant with her second child, and if she is not screened until October she will be at that time 34 weeks on the way.

“It’s miserable to be in this situation,” Karen told reporters. “Naturally, I’m just angry at the system. I have a little girl who I am caring for alone and I am pregnant with another. This is a huge shock if something happens. Is he going to take responsibility for that?,” referring to Kristján.

This is reportedly not the first time this has happened, either. Both Þórður and sources close to Vísir say that numerous other women have been made to wait this long between samples, despite showing highly indicative symptoms of cervical cancer.

Ebba Margrét Magnúsdóttir, an OB-GYN and the former chair of the Medical Council at Landspítali hospital, told radio station Bylgjan that it might possibly be criminal, and that action must be taken.

This is not the first time that scandal has arisen in the area of cervical cancer screenings, and numerous medical professionals feel as though they are not being heard by the Ministry of Health.

“This matter has been openly discussed for half a year but is largely being ignored and no one is shouldering responsibility,” she said. “I’m calling for it, and having been calling for it, that people take a stand and do their jobs.”

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