Medical Negligence Lawyers Join Woman Left With Stoma In Calling For Lessons To Be Learned
A mum developed cervical cancer after a Hospital Trust incorrectly recorded her abnormal smear test, meaning she wasn’t offered a procedure to remove pre-cancerous cells.
Frances Kavanagh, of Bristol, was diagnosed with the disease eight years after undergoing a routine screening appointment. The results showed high-grade cells changes, but Frances was told these were borderline.
Instead of being offered a procedure to remove cells, the mum-of-two was advised to attend a routine follow-up smear test. A further screening test four years later was also classed as showing borderline changes.
Bristol mum Frances diagnosed with cervical cancer
Eight years after the initial smear, a further smear showed severe cells changes. Frances, of St George, Two Mile Hill, was diagnosed with cervical cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes.
Frances underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy, where radiation is inserted into the body near to the cancer. Following cancer treatment she developed bowel, bladder and kidney problems.
Medical negligence lawyers investigate following cancer diagnosis
Frances instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate and help her access the specialist rehabilitation, support and therapies she requires.
The 44-year-old has now revealed the impact cancer has had.
Frances, who has a permanent stoma, has been told she may need a kidney transplant in the future and has been left with a reduction in her long-term survival. She has joined her legal team at Irwin Mitchell in supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and calling for lessons to be learned.
Hospital Trust admits breach of duty
It comes after University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, which was responsible for analysing the initial smear test, admitted a breach of duty.
Expert Opinion“The last few years and coming to terms with her diagnosis and its impact has been incredibly difficult for not only Frances but her family.
“Understandably she had a number of concerns about her diagnosis and whether more could have been done to prevent her cancer developing.
“While nothing can make up for what she’s been through and continues to face, we’re pleased that we’ve at least been able to secure Frances the answers she deserves.
“Worrying issues in the care she received have been admitted. We’re now working with the Trust to secure a settlement so Frances can access the specialist therapies she requires because of her cancer. However, in the meantime it’s vital that lessons are learned to improve patient safety.
“Despite the issues highlighted in Frances’ case, it’s important women continue to take part in the screening programme. Through our work we sadly see the impact that cancer can have and how early detection and treatment are key to beating it.” James Pink
Cervical cancer: Frances Kavanagh's story
Frances, who has two children, Chloe, 27, and Karlos, 24, and three grandchildren, attended a smear test in October 2009. The results, the following month, showed borderline changes.
She underwent another routine screening in March 2013 which also showed borderline changes.
In June 2017 Frances underwent a further smear which showed severe cells changes. Following tests, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Following treatment, she was given the all-clear from cancer but still lives with bowel, bladder and kidney issues.
An audit of Frances’ smear test results following her diagnosis found her 2009 result showed high-grade changes.
Following legal submissions by Irwin Mitchell, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust admitted a breach of duty in that Frances’ 2009 smear test was incorrectly reported.
It admitted that if Frances’ test had been correctly reported she would have been referred for an assessment and offered a procedure to remove cells. If Frances had undergone the procedure she would have avoided the development of invasive cancer, the requirement for chemotherapy and radiotherapy and its side effects, as well as the reduction in her long-term survival, the Trust admitted.
Frances reveals impact of cancer as she supports awareness campaign
Frances said: “It’s almost impossible to find the words to describe what the last few years have been like.
“After my third smear test when I was told I had severe cells changes, deep down I knew it was serious, but nothing still prepared me for the news that it was cancer. I was absolutely devastated.
“The treatment, particularly while trying to come to terms with my diagnosis was difficult, not just physically but emotionally. It was gruelling and I suffered extreme fatigue, lost weight and started developing problems with my bladder.
“While I’ve been told that I’m cancer free I remain nervous that it might come back. I now also have to live with my other issues which have a profound effect on me.
“I’m mindful of my appearance, particularly because of my stoma and have been told that I might have to undergo a kidney transplant in the future.
“I feel like my quality of life has deteriorated and I don’t really have a social life outside of my family. My family have been amazing through all of this and I’m so thankful to them for their support. I’d be lost without them.
“If I’d have been told my initial smear result was abnormal and the best option would be to have the cells removed, I absolutely would have agreed to the procedure. I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through what I have.
“I just hope that by speaking out I can raise awareness of the issues I’ve faced to improve care for others. It’s also important women feel they don’t have to go through cervical cancer alone as help and support is available.”
More information on cervical cancer
Cervical Cancer Prevention Weeks runs from 22-28 January. For more information visit the website of the charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting women and families affected by cervical cancer at our dedicated cervical cancer claims section. Alternatively, to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.