Woman with serious breast cancer gets urgent court hearing against HSE

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A woman diagnosed with advanced breast cancer at University Hospital Galway has been granted an urgent court hearing against the Health Service Executive.

The woman claims that an oncologist at the UHG Breast Clinic diagnosed her with Grade II to Grade III ductal breast cancer three months after she was told elsewhere that the lump was benign.

She was advised to undergo a treatment regime called Cleopatra, but has been told that the treatment is about prolonging her life and not curing the cancer.

She has secured a fast-tracked date for a hearing against the Health Service Executive on January 11 to be heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

According to the Irish Times the woman in her late 30s was several months pregnant when she found a lump on her breast while having a shower and became concerned.

She said that after telling her obstetrician about the lump he scheduled an appointment with a consultant surgeon at a hospital.

In her claim she says that the consultant surgeon carried out a brief physical examination at an appointment four days later, but didn’t schedule a radiology or cytological examination.

He told her that while she did have a lump on her breast, it was “clinically benign” and likely caused by hormone changes due to pregnancy.

She says the doctor should have had greater regard for her family’s medical history. Her mother died of breast cancer in her 50s.

The consultant said that he would arrange for a follow up examination at the UHG Breast Clinic in November she claims.

Shortly after she gave birth to her daughter in October 2016 she felt pain in her right breast, to the alarm of a non-hospital doctor who said that he would try and push forward her appointment with an oncologist, the woman said.

She was seen at UHG on November 17, where it was found that she had a 3mm mass with multiple enlarged lymph nodes and a biopsy came back with the results of highly invasive ductal cancer.

Had the cancer been caught in the August examination, the claim states, it never would have metastasised or affected her lymph nodes.

Instead she would have been dealing with a smaller tumor with a 90% five-year survival rate.

The HSE has admitted to a breach of duty for the delay to the woman’s treatment, but has not said anything about the extent of that delay.

It has also claimed that there would have been no difference in the woman’s treatment and prognosis had there been no delay.

Finally, the HSE denies that she suffered the alleged injury, and loss based on any negligence on its part.

The case came before Justice Cross on Thursday, where the applicant’s legal counsel Des O’Neill SC said that due to the woman’s condition, an immediate trial date was needed.

Justice Cross listed the case for January 11, but gave the defence leave to come to him if the HSE has a problem with that date.