Woman Joins Medical Negligence Lawyers In Supporting Major Awareness Campaign
A woman is calling for lessons to be learned after developing cervical cancer when her smear test was incorrectly classed as clear.
Shona Clark, from Ashington, was diagnosed with the disease three years after undergoing a routine smear test. The result was recorded as negative but should have highlighted borderlines changes.
Following her diagnosis, the 44-year-old underwent a hysterectomy as well as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy - where radiation is administered directly next to the tumour.
Medical negligence lawyers investigate cervical cancer diagnosis
Shona instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate. Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which was responsible for examining Shona’s test result, admitted a breach of duty.
It admitted had the result been accurately reported as showing borderline changes, tests to check for HPV (human papillomavirus) would have been carried out. If this was positive Shona would have been referred to doctors.
If Shona’s smear test result had not been classed as negative, on the balance of probabilities, she would not have developed cervical cancer and she would not have had to undergo cancer treatment, the Trust acknowledged.
Woman supports campaign after Newcastle Hospital Trust admits breach of duty
Shona, an account manager, and her legal team are now supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
Expert Opinion“Shona and her family have suffered an incredibly tough few years as they tried to come to terms with her diagnosis and the physical and emotional impact it has had.
“Understandably Shona has a number of concerns about her diagnosis. While nothing can make up for her ordeal we’re pleased that we have at least been able to provide her with the answers she deserved.
“Through our work we sadly see the impact that cancer can have. While it’s vital that lessons are learned from Shona’s case to improve patient safety, it’s also important that people continue to attend cancer screening appointments. Early detection and treatment is key to beating cancer.”
“We’ll continue to support Shona to help her access the specialist support and therapies she requires to try and look to the future the best she can.” Rebecca Pearey - Associate Solicitor
Cervical cancer: Shona Clark's story
Shona, who is married to Ken, had previously had an abnormal smear result in 1998. She attended a routine four-yearly screening appointment in 2015. By early 2018 her periods had changed and her bleeding had become heavier.
Shona sought medical advice for her symptoms. During a gynaecology appointment in August 2018 doctors suspected she may have cervical cancer.
After her diagnosis Shona underwent cancer treatment. The treatment did not remove her tumour so she underwent surgery in May 2019.
Shona has check-ups every three months to monitor whether the cancer has returned.
Ashington woman supports cervical cancer awareness campaign
Shona said: “I’d always attended routine smears and had no reason to think anything other than what the results said. Then in early 2018 my cycle changed. It became shorter and I also started suffering with really bad headaches.
“I knew something wasn’t right but it still came as a huge shock when I was told I had cancer.
“The treatment was really difficult. I had chemotherapy every Monday for five weeks which lasted for around 11 hours and which I found very draining.
“The brachytherapy was extremely uncomfortable and painful. Since my treatment I’ve been left with burns on my skin and experience significant pain in all of my joints. I used to be confident and enjoy going out. I would go to the gym three times a week or go out shopping or meet friends. However, because of the ongoing pain I can’t go to the gym and do almost all of my shopping online as I can’t carry bags.
“I can’t thank Ken and my family enough for all the support they have given me over the past few years. Without them I’m not sure I would have been able to cope.
“The hardest thing to try and accept is that if my test had been recorded accurately I probably wouldn’t have had to go through a lot of what I have.
“Even though my result was misreported it’s vital that women attend regular smears. I just hope that by sharing my story I can help others and show that support is available.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people and their families affected by cancer at our dedicated cancer claims section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
Cervical Cancer Prevention Weeks runs from 17-23 January. For more information visit the Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust website at www.jostrust.org.uk