Far North woman's warning on breast cancer tests
A KURANDA woman who is suing the State Government and a local doctor after a cancerous lump in her breast went undiagnosed for three years is warning people against relying solely on mammogram results.
Kathryn Edwards was diagnosed with cancer in July last year, almost three years after she first visited a Smithfield general practitioner and expressed concern over a painless lump in her right breast.
She has now lodged claims in Cairns District Court against the doctor and the state for an undisclosed amount, alleging medical negligence on the part of the GP and BreastScreen Queensland.
Ms Edwards' lawyer, Sarah Atkinson, said Ms Edwards visited her doctor in August 2008 and was not referred for a mammogram, but she had a routine screen in May the next year which came back negative for breast cancer.
Ms Atkinson, who is a senior associate with Maurice Blackburn's medical negligence department, said Ms Edwards was finally diagnosed at another routine screening last year, although the delay could considerably shorten her life.
"The real tragedy is she has done everything that you are told to do. She has had regular screens with BreastScreen and gone to her GP, yet she has still had the diagnosis of advanced cancer," Ms Atkinson told The Cairns Post.
"By the time it was diagnosed, it was in some of her lymph nodes.
"At the moment she is in remission … but we consider her prognosis is likely to be worse than it would be if it was picked up earlier.
"It goes without saying that no amount of money can put right what has happened."
Ms Atkinson said Ms Edwards encouraged other women to get mammograms, but warned them not to be falsely reassured by a negative result if their instincts told them otherwise.
"I think it does show that BreastScreen isn't an infallible service … if they have a lump or a concern about that breast, they still need to follow that up," the lawyer said.
"A lot of people don't realise they can pay privately for an ultrasound."
Last year, Cairns woman Jenny Algar settled out of court after she pursued the Government for $800,000 over two failed mammograms.
Ms Atkinson did not represent Ms Algar, but has acted for 12 women in cases against the State Government over BreastScreen services in the past six years.
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Breast awareness: A Kuranda woman, whose cancerous lump in her breat went undiagnosed for three years, is warning women to not rely solely on mammogram results.