£420,000 awarded for surgery after delayed cancer diagnosis

A 37 year-old woman received compensation of £420,000 for delays in a cancer diagnosis. The delays lead to radical surgery which could have been avoided had the cancer been correctly diagnosed seven years earlier.

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Case details

Injury details

The claimant had cervical smear tests in 2002 and 2006. Both were reported negative. In 2010 a cervical smear suggested low grade cervical glandular intra-epithelial neoplasia (CGIN).

An urgent referral to a colposcopy clinic was made where biopsies were taken. The biopsies showed high grade CGIN. A large loop excision was performed under local anaesthetic. Following this the claimant was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Recommended treatment for the cancer involved surgery. A radical hysterectomy and pelvic lymph node dissection were performed.

The claimant experienced pain in her abdomen, pelvis, perineum and legs. Significant medication was needed for the pain and the claimant suffered irritable bowel syndrome. Her mood was low and she became depressed requiring psychotherapy.

The woman was unable to work. Her home life was affected and she could not look after her family as before, including help with domestic chores.

Before the operation she had worked 2-3 days a week as a dental hygienist and hoped to return to full time when her daughters started school. Following surgery she could only work a day-and-a-half each week.

She rested and avoided strenuous activity the remainder of the week. Her pain prevented her from increasing her hours.

The prognosis was for her pain to continue. There was a slight increased risk of death within five years as a result of the delay.


It was alleged that the defendant was negligent insofar as they incorrectly reported the smear test of 2006 as negative.

The incorrect smear test left cancer undiagnosed. The radical surgery necessary would have been avoided by early diagnosis.

The claimant suffered pain and discomfort as a result of the surgery. She was made infertile.

There would be some degree of pain permanently. Her risk of dying from cancer prematurely was increased slightly.

Conclusion and settlement

Liability was admitted and the matter settled without progressing to Court.

Compensation of £420,000 was accepted by way of out of Court settlement.

£70,000 was attributed to "pain, suffering and loss of amenity."

Past loss of earnings, medical treatment, care and assistance and travel costs were awarded at £54,000.

£230,000 of future loss of earnings was agreed.

Future care, medical treatment and travel expenses were accepted in the sum of £66,000.

Read more: clinical negligence compensation claims

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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher