Sportsman died after cancer missed

A YOUNG sportsman died from testicular cancer after doctors failed to diagnose his condition for a month, it emerged today.Matt Elmy went to his GP as soon as he realised something was wrong, but was told it was probably an infection.

THIS young sportsman died from testicular cancer after doctors failed to diagnose his condition for a month, it emerged today.

Matt Elmy went to his GP as soon as he realised something was wrong, but was told it was probably an infection.

He was diagnosed only after going to hospital in agony and refusing to leave. By then the cancer had spread to his brain, lungs, liver and lymph system.

Matt, who was brought up in Coopers Close, Witnesham, died on February 19, the day before his 32nd birthday and just three months after getting married.

Respecting his dying wishes, Matt's family today came forward to highlight the failings in his treatment and to raise awareness of the disease.

His mother, Jan, said: "He wanted it all to come out so procedures were put right.

Most Read

"When you're ill, you expect the medical system to be right. But it wasn't for Matt."

He first felt discomfort in his testicle in August 2002, just four months after completing the London Marathon.

Following a visit to his doctor, he was sent for an ultrasound scan. This seemingly ruled out cancer.

Matt was prescribed a course of antibiotics, with an infection thought to be the cause of his problem.

Despite his condition, he went on to complete the Three Peaks Challenge, also in that August, which involved climbing Britain's three highest mountains in 24 hours.

However, his pain had not gone away so he went for another scan, which also failed to pick up any cancer. By now Matt, in excruciating pain, began coughing up blood.

Repeated visits to the accident and emergency department at London's Whipps Cross Hospital followed, but he was turned away each time and given morphine for his pain.

Then, a few days later, he returned and refused to leave. It was then he was finally given a blood test, which confirmed the cancer - one month after he had first visited his GP. He was formally diagnosed on September 10, 2002.

The way he was treated at the hospital has left his family furious. They say x-rays, blood test results and vital documents were lost during his time there.

Mrs Elmy said: "The NHS are always on about saving money but they could've saved thousands if they'd have diagnosed Matt's condition earlier. Some of the treatments he was having cost £10,000."

His father, Peter, added: "When he was first seen, someone should've said, lump - cancer. Not lump - infection. It should've been treated as the worst case scenario from the beginning.

"It's not about suing anyone. It's about them (the medical experts) coming to us and saying, 'well this has happened and that has happened and it won't happen again."

Although unhappy with the initial treatment he received, the family are keen to point out the "brilliant" way he was looked after at St Bartholomew's Hospital, in London.

Professor Tim Oliver, head of the oncology unit at Barts, said they could have helped him more if he had been admitted sooner.

"Undoubtedly we could have been treating him earlier," he said. "There would have been a possible ten to 20 per cent better chance than when we started at the later stage."

A spokeswoman for Camden Primary Care Trust, the area where Mr Elmy's GP was based, said the family's complaint would be treated "very seriously".

A spokeswoman for Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust said: "The Trust is sorry that Mr Elmy's family are unhappy with some aspects of his care ... and urges them to make contact so that it can investigate further."

She said the week between his first arrival and his diagnosis would not have affected the outcome because of the stage the cancer had already reached.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter