Solicitors have been asked to investigate a woman´s late diagnosis of cervical cancer which, her family claim, should have been identified sooner.
Rachel Harrison from Hexham in Northumberland died on 30th June 2012 aged 31 – less than three years after being diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. Before she died, Rachel requested her screening history which, according to her husband Peter, revealed missed opportunities to diagnose pre-cancerous cells.
The screening history revealed that Rachel had her first smear test at the age of nineteen. The test was reported as inadequate and Rachel was advised to have an early repeat test. This she did in 2001, which was reported as abnormal, but another test the following year was reported as normal. The age for cervical screening was then moved to 25, and Rachel did not have another smear test until 2007.
The test in 2007 was difficult and concerns were raised about it. However, it was reported as being normal and the opportunity was missed to advise Rachel to have more frequent test in view of her medical history. It was not until Rachel started to experience abnormal bleeding in 2009 that she was referred to a gynaecologist, who advised her to urgently begin chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for advanced cervical cancer.
Initially the treatment appeared to be successful but, in October 2011, tests revealed that the cancer had spread to Rachel´s bowel and showed signs of developing in her lungs and liver. Rachel underwent more intensive chemotherapy, but her immune system weakened and, on 30th June 2012, she died in Hexham Hospital after contracting a chest infection.
Believing that her condition should have been identified sooner, Rachel´s husband and mother have asked solicitors to investigate the late diagnosis of cervical cancer. They believe that failings in the screening process were responsible for the development of the cancer and it ultimately being untreatable.