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Delayed diagnosis of breast cancer

A recent study presented at the National Cancer Research Institute in Liverpool showed that the average time for a woman to be diagnosed with Breast Cancer has fallen by just two days since 2002, despite the Government investing millions of pounds to try to reduce this. On average, women now wait 25 days for a diagnosis after visiting their doctor, compared with 27 days in 2002. In 10% of cases, women waited 5 months for a diagnosis.

One of my clients suffered a 16 month delay in having her Breast Cancer diagnosed, despite the fact that she drew the lump to the attention of her surgeon from day 1.

She had a history of Cystic Breast Disease, but in 2007, she was diagnosed with Cancer in her right breast. This was successfully treated. In August 2008, she re-presented to her Breast Surgeon complaining of a lump in her left Breast. She was told that this lump was a Cyst and her concerns were repeatedly dismissed. On one occasion, she was even told to "not go looking for these things". 16 months later in December 2009, she was finally told that she did indeed have Cancer in her left Breast. By the time of diagnosis, the Cancer had progressed to the extent where my client had to undergo a Mastectomy and Axillary Node Clearance.

I have recently received expert evidence in this case which confirms that the lump my client presented to her Surgeon back in August 2008 was indeed the early stages of a left sided Breast Cancer. Had it been treated at that stage, she would have avoided the need for a Mastectomy and Axillary Node Clearance.

Many of the cases involving delayed diagnosis involve delays by GPs in spotting the early signs of Cancer. What is most disappointing about my client's case is that she had a history of Breast Cancer AND was under the care of specialists, yet it was still missed.

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