Continuing reports of the 450,000 women in their late 60’s affected by NHS breast screening errors have highlighted the fact that many women only discovered they had breast cancer by self-examination and received treatment by taking the initiative themselves.
A case in point is Patricia Minchin, who according to BBC reports was tested in 2009 when she was 67 but failed to get an invitation for a second examination. In 2015 she discovered three lumps in her breast and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment only because she had insisted on raising her concerns.
That situation has resonated with our client Zina Merry who has only just contacted Sarah Harper, a Senior Associate with Shoosmiths, to investigate what Zina believes to be a similar failure to follow up as promptly as her condition warranted.
Zina, aged 52 and from Spalding, Lincolnshire, underwent her first mammogram under the National Screening Programme in March 2016. This spotted changes in her left breast resulting in a biopsy.
During the biopsy procedure two markers were placed in her breast to enable future scans to identify if there had been any further changes. Another mammogram was carried out to ensure the markers had been placed in the correct position and would be visible on future mammograms.
She went home and carried on with her life, however, she was not recalled for screening to check for further changes. In October 2017 Zina started to develop worrying symptoms in her left breast and a mammogram in January 2018 suggested something suspicious.
A biopsy showed a Grade 2 lobular breast cancer. Zina underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction on 15 March 2018. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Investigations into what went wrong with Zina’s treatment are at an early stage.
However, what appears to be evident thus far is that, like those women not invited for a screening, Zina received treatment only after she had taken the initiative rather than trusting the system and believing ‘no news to be good news’ as so many others may have done.
Sarah Harper says:
‘Surely it must be quite simple to put in checks to ensure that women who need to be followed up are followed up and followed up promptly, especially in Zina’s situation where there was cause for concern. Failure to do so for whatever reason – IT malfunctions, clerical error or poor managerial oversight - can result in serious consequences as can be seen here in this case and countless others.’
We are concerned that the breast screening failures may have affected many more women than originally thought. Read more here.
Additional Media Coverage
See an interview with Zina Merry filmed by BBC Look North in the video below:
[Updated: 25 May 2018]