Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Cancer patients wrongly cleared

Woman has a breast scan
Seventeen women had a diagnosis delay of more than three months

Twenty-two women with breast cancer were wrongly given the all-clear after misdiagnoses by a radiologist at two hospitals in Greater Manchester.

The consultant radiologist, who worked at North Manchester General Hospital and Trafford General, has not been named but has since been suspended.

Health managers have admitted that some of the women could die because of mistakes made from April 2003.

Almost 2,500 scans were checked again after concerns came to light last year.

The mammograms carried out by the consultant were recalled and re-checked after concerns were raised over the quality of his work last year.

North Manchester Hospital
The radiologist worked at North Manchester and Trafford hospitals

An expert panel was called in to investigate and their report was published on Tuesday.

It states that decisions for 238 patients were wrong, and of those, 22 women who were given the all-clear have now discovered they have breast cancer.

Of those 22, 17 had a delay in diagnosis of more than three months.

Delays of more than three months for the diagnosis of breast cancer can have serious implications.

One woman had a delay of two years before she was told she had breast cancer.

I offer my apologies to the women affected by this
Chris Harrison, GMSHA

Dr Richard Campbell, medical director at Trafford, said: "None have died. It is possible we think in 17 cases, out of 22, the delay in diagnosis was long enough that it might alter their outcome.

"The longer the delay, then of course, your risks are going to go up."

Chris Harrison, from Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority (GMSHA), said: "On behalf of the health authority I offer my apologies to the women affected by this, and for the worry and distress caused, in particular to the patients whose cancer diagnosis became delayed as a result of this incident.

"We will be commissioning a full, independent investigation into the circumstances of this incident to identify the root causes, what underlies this, what can we learn from it and how can we prevent it from happening again."

Helplines for patients involved are available on 0161 455 0059 for Trafford or 0161 656 1999 for North Manchester.

Have you been affected by issues covered in this story? Send us your comments and experiences using the form below.

Your comments

Apologies are not good enough - this should NOT happen. I have to have a mammogram every two years and I place my trust in the medical profession - when they tell me I am "clear", I believe them.

My heart goes out to the women affected by this situation - suspending the radiologist is not sufficient. One case could be understood as an error but twenty two - no way!
Alison Petrie, London, UK

I attended the Breast Clinic at Rochdale Birch Hill approx 2 1/2 - 3yrs ago. After numerous biopys I was diagnosed and Mr Ghandi the consultant said the lump I had was cancerous. I went into North Manchester Hospital for a lumpectomy and after a few weeks they did a biopsy on the lump and said it was on the borderline between all clear and cancerous but they decided it was all clear. After reading the article and listening to the news, I am bit concerned that they got the results wrong.
Susan Turner, Rochdale

My Mother was given the all clear by Radiologists at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport in 2001, this was a misdiagnosis and she was later told around a year later that the breast cancer had never cleared. My Mum has now died of cancer aged 43 on 22nd December 2005.
Christopher Berry, Stockport, England

Interested to read your story. I had a similar thing happen me in 1994 when an incorrect cancer diagnosis was given to me although it was corrected within 2-3 hours of seeing my consultant with a phone call to home. Long enough though for me to tell everyone close to me waiting for news that I was 'all clear'.
Philip Pedlow, Belfast

A friend of my mother went to the doctor after finding a lump in her breast, she too was sent away being told she was 'all clear'. However the lump got bigger, but decided not to return to the doctor for some months as she did not want to be seen as a time-waster after being told she was perfectly healthy. She now has stage 2 cancer, with a life expectancy of 2-3years. This is simply not acceptable!
Rebecca, Peterborough

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