Ashington woman develops cervical cancer after test incorrectly recorded as normal

An Ashington woman is calling for lessons to be learned after developing cervical cancer when her smear test was incorrectly classed as clear.

By David Sedgwick
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 12:25 pm
Shona Clark is calling for lessons to be learned after developing cervical cancer when her smear test was incorrectly classed as clear.
Shona Clark is calling for lessons to be learned after developing cervical cancer when her smear test was incorrectly classed as clear.

Shona Clark was diagnosed with the disease three years after undergoing a routine smear test. The result was recorded as negative but should have highlighted borderlines changes.

Following her diagnosis, the 44-year-old underwent a hysterectomy as well as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy.

Shona instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate.

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Shona Clark ringing the bell at the end of her cancer treatment.

Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which was responsible for examining Shona’s test result, admitted a breach of duty.

If Shona’s smear test result had not been classed as negative, on the balance of probabilities, she would not have developed cervical cancer and she would not have had to undergo cancer treatment, the Trust acknowledged.

Rebecca Pearey, a specialist medical negligence expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Shona, said: “Shona and her family have suffered an incredibly tough few years as they tried to come to terms with her diagnosis and the physical and emotional impact it has had.

“Understandably Shona has a number of concerns about her diagnosis. While nothing can make up for her ordeal we’re pleased that we have at least been able to provide her with the answers she deserved.”

Shona, who is married to Ken, had previously had an abnormal smear result in 1998. She attended a routine four-yearly screening appointment in 2015.

By early 2018 her periods had changed and her bleeding had become heavier.

Shona sought medical advice for her symptoms. During a gynaecology appointment in August 2018 doctors suspected she may have cervical cancer.

After her diagnosis Shona underwent cancer treatment. The treatment did not remove her tumour so she underwent surgery in May 2019.

Shona, an account manager, said: “I’d always attended routine smears and had no reason to think anything other than what the results said.

"Then in early 2018 my cycle changed. It became shorter and I also started suffering with really bad headaches.

“I knew something wasn’t right but it still came as a huge shock when I was told I had cancer.

“The treatment was really difficult. Since my treatment I’ve been left with burns on my skin and experience significant pain in all of my joints.

"I used to be confident and enjoy going out. I would go to the gym three times a week or go out shopping or meet friends.

"However, because of the ongoing pain I can’t go to the gym and do almost all of my shopping online as I can’t carry bags.

“The hardest thing to try and accept is that if my test had been recorded accurately I probably wouldn’t have had to go through a lot of what I have.

“Even though my result was misreported it’s vital that women attend regular smears. I just hope that by sharing my story I can help others and show that support is available.”

A spokesperson for the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We can confirm Ms Clark’s smear test was incorrectly classed as negative in 2015 and we sincerely apologise for any shortcomings in her care and treatment as a result.”