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Written by Susan Brown

Boyes Turner’s specialist medical negligence lawyers have secured an admission of liability for a young woman who developed cervical cancer when a hospital failed to follow up on her abnormal smear and biopsy results.

Our client was referred by her GP to the defendant hospital after a routine smear test showed borderline changes. She had a colposcopy (an outpatient clinic examination of the cervix) which showed minor abnormalities and attended a further colposcopy, smear test and biopsies were carried out. Our client was told that she would only be contacted for treatment if the biopsy results gave any cause for concern.

When the results of the tests were reported, they showed mild dyskaryosis and grade 1 CIN. Cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) is not cancer but is often described as ‘pre-cancerous change’ in the squamous cells of the cervix. Grade 1 CIN indicates the lowest level of severity. CIN doesn’t always need treatment but must be followed up. If treatment is required it is usually simple and very successful. If our client had been offered treatment when her CIN was diagnosed, she probably would not have gone on to develop cancer.

The hospital failed to contact our client, who was left unaware that she needed treatment to avoid developing cervical cancer. Having heard nothing more from the hospital, she assumed that her results were normal. A year later she experienced abnormal vaginal bleeding. The cause of her bleeding was investigated and she was found to have stage 2b node-positive squamous cell carcinoma. The hospital’s failure to recall the claimant and the resulting delay in treating her for her CIN meant that she now had malignant cancer which had spread to the lymph nodes and she needed to have chemo-radiotherapy.

The chemo-radiotherapy was successful although there is now an increased risk of recurrence of the disease. Earlier treatment of the CIN would not have involved chemo-radiotherapy, with its distressing side effects which include pain, dizziness and nausea, fatigue and aching, swelling, ongoing problems with bowel and bladder function, dry skin and difficulty sleeping. Our client is now infertile with premature menopause and suffers discomfort during sexual intercourse. She has been affected psychologically.

Boyes Turner’s specialist medical negligence lawyers acted for our client on a conditional fee agreement (no win no fee). The defendant NHS Trust has admitted liability for the injury and we are now carrying out the necessary investigations to value the claim.