Woman Diagnosed With Stage Three Cancer Which Had Spread To Pelvis Three Years After Smear Result Incorrectly Classed As Normal
A mum has spoken of her upset after being diagnosed with cervical cancer as a result of her smear test being incorrectly classed as negative.
The 40-year-old was diagnosed with stage three cancer - which had spread to her pelvis - in 2019, three years after her test result was classed as clear. It should have been recorded as showing high grade changes in cells.
The mum-of-two underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well as brachytherapy - where radiation is administered directly next to the tumour. She is now infertile, is going through early menopause and is at risk of developing brittle bones.
Medical negligence lawyers investigate cancer diagnosis
Following her diagnosis the woman from Thornaby, who doesn’t want to be named, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate.
During investigations her legal team found that following her diagnosis, an audit of her 2016 test had been carried out. The audit, which the woman said she had not been told about, concluded the result showed high grade severe dyskaryosis – changes in cells.
Hospital Trust admits breach of duty
North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which was responsible for analysing the test, denied a breach of duty through NHS Resolution. However, on the same day it denied a breach, following further legal submissions, it admitted a breach of duty.
The Trust admitted that if the patient’s smear had been accurately reported she would have undergone appropriate treatment. She would not have developed cervical cancer, would not have required cancer treatment and would not have suffered consequences of treatment.
The woman’s legal team at Irwin Mitchell is now working with the Trust towards a settlement which will fund the specialist therapies and support she requires as a result of her cancer.
Thornaby woman and legal team support cervical cancer awareness campaign
The pair are now supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
Expert Opinion“Our client has been left devastated by her diagnosis, her subsequent treatment and the impact it’s had on her life.
“During the course of our investigations worrying issues about how her smear result was wrongly interpreted and the subsequent audit, which she was unaware of, came to light. Transparency is key to maintaining public confidence in the health service and it’s vital that lessons are now learned to improve patient safety.
“Our client has shown great bravery in sharing her story in the hope of helping others. We’ll continue to support her so she can access the specialist support she requires to try and look to the future.
“It’s also important to remember that cervical cancer is a treatable disease with a good long term prognosis when diagnosed early. Therefore women need to attend regular smear appointments and be aware of the symptoms, and if needed, seek medical advice at the earliest possible opportunity.” Alexis Tulloch - Senior Associate Solicitor
Medical negligence: Our client's story
The woman attended her first screening appointment in 2011 which was recorded as negative. She attended another routine smear in March 2016 which again was classed as negative.
In December 2018 she visited a doctor complaining of heavy bleeding. In March 2019 she attended a third smear test, the results of which showed abnormal cells. Following further tests she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
The woman continues to be under hospital review and attends regular appointments.
Teesside woman speaks of cancer battle
She said: “When the result of my smear test came back as suspicious I was apprehensive. I tried not to think about it too much but deep down I knew something wasn’t right. Despite this it was still devastating when I was told I had cancer. Nothing can prepare you for those words.
“My treatment was really difficult both physically and emotionally. I was that drained from the treatment and felt so sick that I struggled to get out of bed and was totally reliant on my family for everything. I couldn’t have coped without them.
“I’ve been told by the doctors that I’ve responded well to treatment but I’ve been hugely affected by my diagnosis. I still live with the physical and psychological effect of what’s happened.
“Cervical cancer is a terrible disease that just doesn’t affect those diagnosed but also their family and friends. The condition has had a major impact on my life. I just hope that by speaking out others become more aware of the symptoms and that the Trust improves how it records results so others don’t have to go through what I have. People diagnosed with the cancer shouldn’t feel that they have to suffer alone. There is help and support out there.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people following a cancer diagnosis 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