Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer

The claimant, a 55-year-old woman, received a lump sum of £445,000 after a GP failed to refer her to a breast surgeon in June 2001 and she was later found to have cancer which had spread. She underwent treatment but the cancer later recurred as metastases and she was given a life expectancy of approximately three years from the date of that diagnosis.

Claimant: Female: 46 years old at date of incident; 55 years old at time of settlement.

Clinical Negligence: In June 2001, the claimant (C), on the advice of a practice nurse, consulted the defendant GP (D) about her left breast. C had been complaining of pain in her left breast and itchiness around the nipple and the nurse had felt lumpiness in the area. D examined C's breast and recorded fibroadenotic breasts with no discreet lumps. He also reassured C and said that patients with breast cancer did not suffer from pain.

Approximately 15 months later, C consulted a different GP because she was concerned about her left breast. The GP arranged for an urgent referral to hospital. At hospital C was diagnosed as having a malignant lump and mammograms showed that there was a large tumour occupying most of the upper part of her left breast. Further investigations revealed that the cancer had spread and it was aggressive. The following month C underwent a mastectomy and a breast implant and then commenced chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In May 2007, C was diagnosed as suffering from painful rib metastasis and was prescribed new drugs to treat the recurrence.