Doctors missed young woman’s cancer signs for almost a year

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Doctors missed young woman’s cancer signs for almost a year

11th June 2010

A young woman has settled her claim for compensation after doctors failed to diagnose her with cancer for almost a year.

The woman - who was in her thirties - received £49,000 in an out of court settlement after four doctors at the same medical practice missed "clear signs" she was suffering from cervical cancer. The late diagnosis allowed the cancer to spread, and as a result she had to undergo more radical and invasive treatment, including having a kidney removed.

"In 2005, my client underwent a smear test just like thousands of women in the country, and the results were all clear," said Mark Hatzer, a medical negligence specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP. "But just a few months later she began suffering from unexplained bleeding, so made an appointment at her local medical practice.

"She was told that the problem was most likely being caused by her contraceptive pill, so was prescribed a different one," said Mark, a partner with the firm. "But her condition didn't improve, and over the course of the next few months she visited the medical centre on a number of occasions. The doctors she saw simply changed her pill again and again. It happened about five or six times," he said.

"My client began having terrible back pain, she was crying a lot and felt she was suffering from depression. By early 2006, her backache had gotten so bad that she was referred for further investigation," said Mark.

Following the consultation, she was told that she was suffering from stage three cervical cancer. "She was understandably devastated," he said.

"Not only because she found out that she had cancer, but also because it had been allowed to grow and spread for almost a year whilst being told the problems were caused by her pill. She discovered that the bleeding and backache were in fact being caused by a very large tumour," said Mark. "It had become so advanced that she had to undergo extensive treatment which would otherwise have been unnecessary had the doctors made the correct diagnosis sooner."

Mark said the delayed diagnosis meant that his client's treatment was more radical, lengthy and painful than it should have been. "This young mother had to undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy - where the doctors actually insert radioactive metal wires into the tumour," he said.

"Through failing to identify the tumour earlier, the medical practice had delayed her treatment by many months. She was displaying symptoms which would normally have alerted most medical practitioners to a tumour. There were clear signs, which were all missed on a number of different occasions.

"The delay allowed the cancer to spread to her kidneys and lymph nodes," said Mark. "She had to have one of her kidneys removed, something which should not have happened and would not, but for the delay in diagnosing."

Although the client is now in remission, her ordeal has left her suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and she is taking a variety of medication.

"This young woman and her family have suffered enormously," said Mark. "Although the medical practice refused to admit liability or apologise for failing to detect the cancer earlier, hopefully this settlement will enable her to draw a line under the circumstances of her diagnosis and concentrate on her future."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to clinical and medical negligence.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.