Mum Had Both Breasts Removed Before Being Told She Was Misdiagnosed With Cancer
A woman who had both her breasts removed before learning she had been misdiagnosed with cancer has opened up about her ordeal.
In 2016, 28-year-old Sarah Boyle from Stoke-on-Trent was given some terrible news by doctors at Royal Stoke Hospital. She had triple negative breast cancer and would require a double mastectomy as well as chemotherapy.
However, in June 2017 – after enduring months of ‘horrific’ treatment and the removal of both her breasts – the mum-of-two was informed doctors had made a terrible misdiagnosis.
Not only was her cancer treatment ‘unnecessary’, it could have also led to fertility issues. Sarah was also informed that reconstructive surgery could increase the risk of her actually developing breast cancer in the future.
Thankfully, Sarah and her husband Steven, 31, were able to have a healthy second child following her treatment, Louis, who is now one year old. However, the psychological and physical effects of her ordeal have taken their toll.
To be told you have cancer and it’s uncommon for someone your age was hard enough to take in. But then to be told after months of horrific treatment that it was all unnecessary is something I’m not sure I’ll ever fully come to terms with.
It’s not just the physical effects that I have been left with but also the mental torture of what I’ve been through. A misdiagnosis of cancer can ruin people’s lives and some people may not be as fortunate to survive.
Going forward, Sarah is pushing for the wider use of cutting edge artificial intelligence technology in hospitals; hoping this will protect other women from a harmful misdiagnosis.
According to Sarah:
It’s vital to raise awareness of the consequences that families can be left to face because of errors.
Anything that helps reduce the number of people affected by a misdiagnosis or allows others to receive treatment more quickly has to be welcomed.
After finding out about her own misdiagnosis, Sarah contacted specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the case.
The legal experts were able to secure an admission of liability from University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, the trust responsible for Royal Stoke Hospital.
Sarah has since joined the Irwin Mitchell legal team in welcoming new research, published in Nature, which suggests artificial intelligence (AI) is more accurate than doctors when diagnosing breast cancer from mammograms.
Lawyer Sarah Sharples said:
What Sarah and her family have had to endure is truly shocking and the effect of what happened continues to impact on their lives. Sarah has suffered significant psychological trauma as a result of what she has been through, and also continues to endure ongoing symptoms caused by her treatment.
The use of technology should not replace human input but technological advances that can complement and assist medical professionals to improve care and lessen waiting times and anxiety for patients should be welcomed.
While this research is in its infancy the results of this study appear to be very promising. We are continuing to support Sarah to help her try and come to terms with what happened to her the best she can.
The University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust have described the misdiagnosis as ‘human error’ and Sarah has since been offered an ‘unreserved apology’.
A spokesperson for the Trust said:
A misdiagnosis of this kind is exceptionally rare and we understand how devastating this has been for Sarah and her family.
In addition to an unreserved apology to Sarah, the findings of the investigation have been shared with her and the case is now part of an on-going legal claim with which the Trust is co-operating fully.
Ultimately the misreporting of the biopsy was a human error so as an extra safeguard all invasive cancer diagnoses are now reviewed by a second pathologist.
Sarah continues to be in regular contact with the clinical team who treated her and they are always available to discuss any on-going concerns she may have.
Hopefully Sarah’s story will help prevent other women having to suffer needlessly on account of a misdiagnosis.
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