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Patients face uncertainty after cancer blunder

24th January 2006

Up to 22 women with breast cancer were wrongly given the all clear by a radiologist in Greater Manchester.

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

Nearly 2,500 scans were recalled after junior staff raised concerns about the radiologist last year.

Today an expert panel called into assess the scans concluded that the diagnoses given for 238 patients were wrong and 22 women who were given the all-clear later discovered they had breast cancer.

For 17 women there was a delay of over three months in receiving the correct diagnosis, which can have serious implications for the treatment of cancer. Health officials said that although none of the women had died, it was possible the delay could affect their outcome.

Dr Chris Harrison, from Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority (GMSHA), issued a statement of apology to the women affected.

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

And Clara McKay, head of policy at Breast Cancer Care, told The Times that the situation highlighted the need for radiologists to work in pairs so they could double-check each other’s work.

“The acute UK-wide shortage of radiologists must be addressed to ensure reliable breast screening for all,” Ms McKay said.

track© Adfero Ltd

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