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The one in 10 – why lobular breast cancer needs to be highlighted

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, where people all over the world show their support for people affected by the disease.

Sarah Harper, specialist clinical negligence lawyer at Shoosmiths in Northampton is raising awareness of a particular type called lobular breast cancer which has affected her client, Zina Merry.

Zina, then aged 50, had a biopsy of her breast in February 2016 following a mammogram which showed abnormalities. The biopsy came back as normal and, relieved, Zina carried on with her life, working as a ward clerk and looking after her family.

Subsequently in January 2018, having felt severe pain in her breast, she was referred for further tests and was diagnosed with Grade 2 Lobular cancer. Further investigations showed that the cancer had spread to her other breast and Zina then underwent a double mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy and she now remains on hormone treatment.

Original biopsy not conclusive

Sarah says:

“In fact, the biopsy of 2016 was not conclusive, and my investigations have shown that a further biopsy should have been carried out which would have detected the cancer at an early stage and Zina would have avoided much of the invasive and arduous treatment she had and should be enjoying a much better quality of life than she has now.”

Zina is now claiming compensation.

Why Lobular Cancer can be deadly

Lobular breast cancer comprises approximately 10% of breast cancers. It has a distinct biology and is usually hormone sensitive. It often fails to form distinct masses which can be easily felt and identifying it by mammogram and biopsy can be difficult and it is sometimes missed.

Sarah adds:

“This is what happened is Zina’s case, but it is important to remember that although lobular cancer is difficult to detect, this does not mean that it cannot be detected in the early stages and care must be taken in interpreting mammograms and biopsies and then early treatment will result in a better outcome for sufferers.”

Zina says:

“This disease has impacted massively on my family and I. Had it been detected at an early stage then I would have had treatment and be back to normal by now.”

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