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Cervical Cancer Compensation
Cervical cancer can have a devastating impact on the lives of the women it affects, which is why early detection is so crucial to allow treatment to be started as soon as possible. If your condition was misdiagnosed or delayed, making a claim with the experienced and understanding team at JMW can help you make a successful cervical cancer claim to access the compensation to which you are entitled.
If you feel you may be eligible to make a compensation claim for cervical cancer, simply phone us on 0800 054 6512 or fill in our online contact form for a free consultation. Our team is caring and sympathetic and can provide the expert guidance you need.
Cervical cancer is the sixth most common malignancy in females. It is rare before the age of 20 years and the peak incidence is in the 45 to 55 year age group. Approximately 1,000 women die from cancer of the cervix each year in the UK.
If caught in the early stages, the prognosis for women is generally good and abnormal cells can often be removed with a minor routine procedure, preventing the disease from advancing.
However, if screening errors or any other form of medical negligence occur, this can mean abnormalities are not detected and the woman may go on to develop cervical cancer that goes unchecked for years.
Cervical cancer screening has undoubtedly saved thousands of lives and the vast majority of women will receive accurate results from their smear test. However, if something does go wrong with the screening process it can lead to the need for invasive surgery, chemotherapy and, in the worst cases, a terminal prognosis for the woman.
The cervix is an organ at the entrance to a woman's uterus. Screening for cervical cancer works by checking for precancerous cell changes and if these are correctly detected then the woman can be referred for treatment to prevent her from developing full-blown cancer.
Smear test slides are checked twice and the first time it is examined carefully for approximately eight minutes and if abnormalities are found, these women should be informed and treated.
All slides that pass this first test and are reported to be clear of any abnormalities are then sent for double checking in a system called 'rapid review'. However, this second check takes just a few seconds meaning it may not be adequate as a system for picking up signs missed first time round.
This system might work in the majority of cases, however, there may still be too many women who slip through the net. Making the system safer and ensuring slides are properly checked twice could ensure fewer women suffer screening errors.
Not all screening errors constitute medical negligence as it is recognised that sometimes very subtle abnormalities may not be detected by a screener looking at a smear test slide. However, in cases JMW has handled, clear signs were present that no reasonable screener should have missed.
The screening programme in the UK changed in 2003, and currently states:
- Women should receive their first invitation for screening at the age of 25
- Women between 25 and 49 years of age - screened every three years
- Women aged 50 to 64 years - screened every five years
- Women aged 65 years are only screened if they have not been screened since aged 50 or have had recent abnormal tests
Samples are routinely collected and then sent to the laboratory to detect any abnormalities.
Diagnosis is most commonly made through the screening process and patients have no symptoms. The cells in this case are usually pre-cancerous and, if treated, the majority will not go on to develop cervical cancer.
Clinically, the first symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding. At first, this is irregular but may become continuous. Vaginal discomfort, discharge and dysuria (pain on passing urine) may also be evident. As a tumour grows it may invade the bladder and rectum and symptoms can evolve, causing obstruction.
An urgent referral to a gynaecologist must be made by the GP when a patient presents with any symptoms suggestive of cervical cancer. Tests will then be undertaken to establish diagnosis. This will involve a colposcopy (an investigative procedure involving a camera) and biopsies.
Once diagnosis is established, treatment will be started. The main choices are between radiotherapy and surgical therapy, and this is usually dictated by the stage of the disease and the age and preference of the patient. Prognosis depends on early diagnosis and treatment. Negligence can occur when a patient presents to her GP with typical symptoms and a referral is not made urgently.
GPs are also under an obligation to ensure patients attend for smear tests. Efforts must be made to set up further appointments and warn patients of the potential risks of non-attendance. Cases have been brought and won against GPs who have not made enough effort to follow up patients who have not attended for smear tests and who have then gone on to develop cancer of the cervix.
Who Is Most at Risk of Cervical Cancer?
Most women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer are aged 25 to 64, and in the last decade incidence numbers have increased in the younger age bracket. One of the major causes of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common virus which is transmitted between people during sexual intercourse.
What Are the Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer?
What Are the Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer?
Research has demonstrated a direct link between cervical cancer and sexual activity, and so the following are all risk factors for cervical cancer:
- Sex at a young age
- Multiple sexual partners
- Promiscuous male partners
- History of sexually transmitted diseases (particularly the Human Papilloma Virus)
Other possible risk factors include:
- High parity (number of childbirths)
- Low social status (possibly due to vitamin A deficiency)
- Heavy smoking
What Are the Consequences of Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis?
A reduced life expectancy (in some cases very significantly) is perhaps the most severe implication for women who have suffered cervical cancer screening errors. However, it is not the only devastating consequence and others include not being able to have children, other health complications and having to undergo gruelling and invasive treatment.
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is a charity and support service that was set up to provide help to women who have been affected by cervical cancer and their loved ones and families. As well as running a helpline for anyone in need of support on cervical cancer issues, the organisation runs an online forum and local support groups in the community.
Another key area for Jo's Trust is campaigning and awareness raising to try to ensure that as many women as possible go for regular smear tests.
JMW has one of the most experienced and respected medical negligence teams in the UK and we are able to offer free advice on whether you have a good case and how much your compensation might be worth.
Our team is headed by leading solicitor Eddie Jones, while a number of our solicitors form part of the Law Society's specialist panel for clinical negligence. Several are also members of the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitor panel.
In appropriate cases, we are able to deal with cases on a no win, no fee basis. If after talking to us you decide not to take matters further, you are under no obligation to do so and you will not be charged for the advice given.
We are have represented numerous women nationally who have suffered significant health problems due to unacceptable cervical cancer screening errors.