Delayed diagnosis of lobular breast cancer

20 March 2024

Delayed diagnosis of lobular breast cancer

The Story

In early 2016, our client underwent a routine breast screening by the Lincolnshire Breast Screening Service, where an abnormality was discovered. She was recalled for a second mammogram and a biopsy of the area was taken. A week later, our client received the good news that the abnormality was not cancerous, and everything was fine. Relieved by this news, our client got on with her life as normal. A couple of years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer which led onto her having to have a mastectomy and further invasive treatment.

The Details

In January 2018, our client attended her GP surgery for an examination having felt a shooting pain across her left breast. A lump was discovered, and she was transferred to the breast clinic at the Pilgrim Hospital in Lincolnshire. She underwent further examinations and another biopsy which revealed that she had grade 2 lobular breast cancer. Our client was advised that this type of breast cancer is very difficult to detect and diagnose.

An MRI scan showed that there were two further masses in her left breast, and there may also have been masses in her right breast, but these could not be detected. Despite not having a diagnosis, our client opted for a double mastectomy, as she was concerned that she had cancer in her right breast too. This surgery took place in March 2018, and our client’s inclination was proved right. In addition to the cancer in her left breast (which turned out to be bigger than initially diagnosed), the right breast results did show lobular cancer and two of her lymph nodes were positive.

The Impact

The negligence of the trust meant that our client went through four months of gruelling chemotherapy together with radiotherapy treatment and hormone medication. An additional mastectomy operation, axillary node clearance, chemotherapy and radiotherapy which led to disfigurement, and extended hormone therapy, as well as experiencing the significant side effects which came with all of the treatment. Our client has slowly recovered, but unsurprisingly, has also suffered psychologically. She now knows her life expectancy is shortened and is at higher risk of the cancer returning. All of this could have been avoided had the negligence not occurred.

How We Helped

Our client instructed Sarah Harper, Clinical Negligence specialist in Shoosmiths serious injury team, to investigate the late diagnosis of her breast cancer and whether this was negligent. Sarah discovered during her investigations that findings of the original biopsy were inconclusive and were in fact not normal. A further assessment of the sample should have been carried out which would have led to an earlier diagnosis and treatment.

The trust admitted liability and the case settled by negotiation. During the claim our client received interim payments on account of her damages, which helped her immensely. The negotiation process was long and drawn out and this only served to add to her distress.

Our client’s main concern was that she did not want anybody else to suffer as she has. She now hopes that the trust learn by their mistakes and that these errors will not happen again.

Sarah said: “I sincerely hope that practices have now changed within the trust. The effect on our client because of their errors has been life changing and the impact on her and her family are enormous however, she has dealt with it in a stoical manner, and I hope the compensation goes some way to help her rebuild her life.

What our client said:

“When my journey began, my first thoughts were how many other ladies had been mis-diagnosed? Was I a singular case or are there others? I hoped that the NHS would recall all of the ladies who were treated during the same period, when they knew that they had made a mistake in my case and hoped that they would act swiftly however that does not appear to be the case. It may be too late for those ladies. In the beginning it wasn’t about money, but after the best part of six years it was, as my life has been affected in so many ways.

My daughter is now 18 years old and wanting to follow her dream of going to university, and her dream is now possible thanks to Sarah, she was relentless after many knock backs and dragging of heels from the NHS, even after they admitted they had failed me!”



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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