Cervical cancer survivor from Stotfold 'heartbroken' she may never become a mum after missed diagnosis
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A woman whose cervix had to be removed after her cancer was missed during a routine smear test has been awarded £65,000 in damages – but is heartbroken that she may never be able to have children.
Lauren Young from Stotfold is now having to use the settlement money to pay for costly IVF treatment and is calling for more awareness of the disease.
The 33-year-old was initially told she had ‘borderline changes’ in Human Papillomavirus (HPV) but was later advised of ‘no abnormal cells’ following a colposcopy at Lister Hospital in 2015.
At her next screening three years later, she reported spotting which an MRI scan and biopsies revealed to be grade 2 carcinoma of the cervix.
She said: “My sister came in the room with me when I was told the results and I remember sitting there frozen. I looked over at her and she looked so pale. I felt like I was listening to someone else’s results, it didn’t feel real.”
In late 2018 her original smear was reviewed as part of the National Invasive Cervical Cancer Audit, which revealed cancer cells could have been present at the time of the initial test.
An investigation concluded that while it would have been difficult for a medic to spot, there were potentially subtle changes present in 2015 and a biopsy done then might have helped diagnosis and prevented the need for radical surgery.
Lauren’s case was taken on by Veritas Solicitors and a claim was made against East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, who took over Ipswich NHS Trust where the pathologist was employed at the time. On April 20 this year she was awarded the payout.
Lauren said: “I’m so grateful to still be alive, but there is now a worry that I may never become a mum, which really frightens me.”
She added: “I trusted the experts and they got it wrong. I was heartbroken and just play over in my mind what could have been done differently.”
Currently, on the NHS, women are not routinely screened under the age of 25 despite cervical cancer affecting younger women as well. Lauren, who has been cancer-free for four years, is calling for changes to the testing age range which she believes could save lives.
Dr Angela Tillett, chief medical officer at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very sorry for the impact this has had on Miss Young. The Trust has accepted liability in this case and has been working with our lawyers to make a settlement for the claim.”
Dr Justin Daniels, medical director at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said: “I am sorry to hear about Lauren’s recent surgery, and hope she continues to recover well. I commend her campaign to raise awareness of cervical cancer.
“This claim was not against the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, which treated Lauren correctly in line with laboratory results of a cervical screening test carried out by the GP in 2015. The claim was against the laboratory which in 2019 was found to have incorrectly reported the test results on which Lauren’s original treatment was based.
“It is really important that women attend cervical screening appointments when called, and seek help if you have any symptoms or unusual bleeding."