July 27, 2021

£350,000 settlement following delayed breast cancer diagnosis at Chesterfield Royal Hospital

Our client underwent routine screening mammograms at age 54 and then again at age 58. Following the screening she was told that the findings of both mammograms were normal. The following year though, then aged 59, she found a palpable lump in her left breast and was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer.

An interval cancer review of the aforementioned mammograms in 2009 and 2012 was carried out by the hospital. The mammograms both demonstrated a mass, which at the time was thought to be normal and benign. As part of the subsequent review the mammograms were reported to show an ill-defined mass and classified them as ‘uncertain’.

As a result of discovering the mass, our client underwent invasive surgery to remove to the tumour and surrounding lymph nodes. She went on to receive six cycles of chemotherapy and twenty-five sessions of radiotherapy.

How did we help?

Our client contacted us concerned that there had been a delay by the Chesterfield Royal Hospital in diagnosing her cancer, and asked us to investigate this on her behalf.

Sophie Angwin-Thornes, an Associate in our team, dealt with the claim and obtained expert evidence from a radiologist and oncologist who indicated that our client’s left breast mass should have been investigated and diagnosed sooner. The appearance of the mass on the mammograms in 2009 and 2012 were not clearly benign and she should have been recalled for further investigation, which would have led to an earlier diagnosis in cancer.

This would have meant that our client’s treatment would not have been as invasive. Earlier diagnosis would also have meant the cancer would not have spread to her lymph nodes and she would not have needed chemotherapy and avoided more radical surgery. Our client suffered many side effects from the chemotherapy which had a debilitating impact on her way of life, and also left her with significant psychological injury on top of this.

Chesterfield Royal Hospital denied liability and advised that the appearance of the mass in 2009 did not warrant the client being recalled for further assessment. They did admit that the cancer should have been diagnosed following the 2012 mammogram but denied this made any difference to our client’s overall treatment and prognosis.

Tragically our client received the news that her cancer had spread to her bones and that her prognosis was now terminal, with all future treatment being palliative. Our experts advised that our client would not have suffered from metastatic disease and her life expectancy would not have been impacted had the cancer been correctly diagnosed in 2009.

Following this development, the Defendant agreed to discuss the case at a formal mediation and an Offer of Settlement was reached in the sum of £350,000. This award ensured that our client would have sufficient compensation for her future care requirements and treatment such as occupational and psychological support.

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