Six-figure settlement for mum diagnosed with cervical cancer 17 months after symptoms
PUBLISHED: 12:45 30 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:15 30 January 2018
A young Ipswich mother who showed symptoms of cervical cancer for 17 months before being diagnosed in hospital has received a six-figure settlement.
Tayne Eaton was too young for a smear test when she first showed signs of cervical cancer, aged 22 in 2013, and was seen at her GP surgery in Essex - where she was then living - a number of times. Women are routinely invited for a smear test aged 25 to 64.
Her symptoms, which included bleeding between periods and abdominal pain, worsened after giving birth to Reggie-Lee in September 2014. She was finally diagnosed with cervical cancer in March 2015 after taking herself to hospital following significant blood loss. Doctors found a nine centimetre tumour.
Independent expert evidence obtained by medical negligence lawyers Irwin Mitchell, instructed by Mrs Eaton, found the Essex-based GPs should have carried out a physical examination, and failed to adhere to national guidelines by not referring her for a review by a gynaecologist.
Mrs Eaton, 27, has now received an undisclosed six-figure settlement. Speaking during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week last week, she said: “Both Lee (her husband) and I were stunned when I was finally told the news that I had cancer. At the time I wasn’t really in the age range where women are more at risk of contracting the disease but I still couldn’t understand how my cancer was missed because I had been going to the doctors so many times.
“While I still feel anger at the level of care I received I also have to remind myself the outcome could have been worse. For some women, delays in their diagnosis could put their life at risk, not just be life-changing. Any symptoms of the disease should not be dismissed.”
The news comes amid warnings that hundreds of young women every year could be putting their lives at risk by avoiding routine smear tests because they are embarrassed about their bodies.
More than a third said embarrassment was the main reason for not attending a cervical screening, a survey by charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found.
Concerns over “smelling normally” and body shape were other reasons. Others admitted they would not go if they had not waxed or shaved their bikini line.
Becky Marsh, 38, from Beccles, diagnosed four years ago after a routine smear test, told all women to “just go”, saying: “I had no symptoms before the test.”
Meanwhile, around 220,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities each year.
More than 3,200 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and 890 women die from the disease in the UK each year. Despite this, the number of people taking up the routine screenings has fallen.
East Anglia mirrors the national picture, the latest figures showing coverage among 25 to 64-year-olds in England has fallen from 72.7% to 72% with more than 1.2m women not taking up a screening invitation.
In Suffolk, overall coverage is down from 74.5% to 74.1%, dropping to 72.2% among 25-49.
In Essex coverage is 74.7%, down from 75.1%, falling to 73% in the 25-49 age range, while in Norfolk it is 74.4%, down from 74.8%, and 72.8% among those aged 25-49.
The majority (99.7%) of cervical cancers are caused by persistent human papillomavirus (HPV). The figures are from charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
This month, the charity published a report into local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG’s) activities to increase cervical screening coverage.
It showed “wide disparity” over extent and quality of activities, with more than a third of local authorities and CCG’s in England not doing any activities to increase attendance.
In the East of England a total of 55% of local authorities did activities to increase screenings in 2016/17. This figure was up 5% from the previous year. In comparison, West Midlands increased by 36%, ranking it top (93%). London was bottom of the table (52%), but it had risen by 15%. Statistics for CCGs were unable to be compared against this year’s figures but the NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG was highlighted, with 52 other CCGs nationally, for showing it was undertaking comprehensive and sustained work to increase cervical screening in its areas.