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Woman in her 20s developed ovarian cancer due to doctors’ surgery’s failure to arrange follow-up for an ovarian cyst

A woman has received £80,000 compensation in a legal claim against her GP after a benign ovarian cyst was not followed up and then developed into a malignant 30cm tumour.

Posted on 22 March 2024

The woman, who we will call Jade and who lives in Oldham near Manchester and was 20 at the time, saw her GP in June 2013 with symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition which ran in her family, and was referred for a scan.

The scan identified a 7cm cyst in the left ovary which her GPs identified needed following up, but Jade herself was never made aware of this finding. Despite attending her doctors’ surgery a few months later for a separate issue, and attending on multiple occasions over the next few years, no follow-up was ever organised and the error was never picked up.

From the summer of 2016 onwards, Jade began to suffer increasing abdominal symptoms which she reported to her GPs and even attended A&E on occasion, but no further investigations were carried out. Eventually, in November 2017, by which time she was experiencing a lot of pain making it difficult to walk, she was referred for another scan. The scan showed what was confirmed to be a tumour measuring over 30cm in her left ovary, around the size of a full-term pregnancy, and Jade was referred to gynaecologists for surgery. Jade underwent open surgery to remove the tumour and her ovary in January 2018, leaving her with an extensive 50cm scar across her abdomen.

After it was removed, analysis of the tumour showed, to Jade’s shock, that it was a grade 1 ovarian cancer. Fortunately, although she had a long recovery from her operation, Jade’s cancer is in remission, but she will need a hysterectomy and removal of the other ovary in around 10 years’ time to ensure the risk of recurrence stays low. As a result of this, Jade will enter menopause at least a decade earlier than she would have done naturally.

Jade instructed Leigh Day medical negligence solicitor, Rebecca Ridgeon, to bring a claim against her GP for the failure to arrange follow-up of her ovarian cyst. An expert in gynaecological cancer concluded that, if Jade’s cyst had been followed up in 2013, she would have been referred to the gynaecology team and the cyst, which would have been benign at that stage, would have been removed with keyhole surgery. As it was, the cyst was allowed to continue growing and became cancerous.

Jade’s GP admitted that Jade should have had a follow-up for the cyst back in 2013. The settlement of £80,000 includes compensation for plastic surgery to improve the extensive scarring to Jade’s stomach, as well as the need for hysterectomy and treatment for early menopause.

Rebecca Ridgeon, who represented Jade, said:

“I am really pleased that, after a long litigation process, we were able to obtain compensation for Jade. As a consequence of the failure to remove a 7cm ovarian cyst in 2013, it was allowed to grow to over four times that size, and a complex operation was needed to remove it.

“Thankfully, Jade is now cancer-free, but the consequences of the negligence are far from over and the compensation will be vital in meeting the costs associated with the further treatment which Jade requires in the future”.

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Rebecca Ridgeon (1)
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Rebecca Ridgeon

Rebecca Ridgeon is an associate solicitor in the medical negligence department.

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