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- Irish noble
A mum has revealed how she underwent a double mastectomy and endured months of gruelling chemotherapy before doctors admitted they had misdiagnosed her with breast cancer.
Sarah Boyle was devastated after learning she had triple negative breast cancer back in 2016.
The then 25-year-old underwent several rounds of chemotherapy before having both breasts removed in a bid to prevent the disease spreading.
But in June 2017, doctors at Royal Stoke University Hospital discovered her biopsy had been misread, which had lead to a misdiagnosis.
In a further twist, the mum was told reconstructive surgery could increase the risk of her developing the disease in the future.
She was also initially told that her cancer treatment may lead to fertility issues, but thankfully she went on to have a second child, Louis, who is now 13 months old.
Sarah is now calling for cutting edge artificial intelligence (AI) technology to be more widely used in hospitals to avoid similar misdiagnoses happening to other women.
This week scientists heralded a breakthrough in cancer diagnosis using computer algorithms to help cut the number of false results.
Sarah, now 28, lives in Stoke-on-Trent with sons Teddy, Louis and her husband, Steven, 31.
She says that even now it is difficult to try and describe what has happened to her.
“To be told you have cancer and it’s uncommon for someone your age was hard enough to take in,” she explains.
“But then to be told after months of horrific treatment that it was all unnecessary is something I’m not sure I’ll ever fully come to terms with.”
Sarah says it isn’t just the physical effects of the treatment she has had to deal with but also the “mental torture” of what she has been through.
“A misdiagnosis of cancer can ruin people’s lives and some people may not be as fortunate to survive.
“It is vital to raise awareness of the consequences that families can be left to face because of errors.
“Anything that helps reduce the number of people affected by a misdiagnosis or allows others to receive treatment more quickly has to be welcomed.”
After being informed by her surgeon, Mr Sankaran Narayanan, that her biopsy had been incorrectly reported and receiving confirmation that she did not have cancer, Sarah instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers to investigate the case.
The lawyers went on to secure an admission of liability from University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust.
Sarah Sharples, expert medical negligence lawyer who represented Sarah, said: “What Sarah and her family have had to endure is truly shocking and the effect of what happened continues to impact on their lives.
“Sarah has suffered significant psychological trauma as a result of what she has been through, and also continues to endure ongoing symptoms caused by her treatment.
“The use of technology should not replace human input but technological advances that can complement and assist medical professionals to improve care and lessen waiting times and anxiety for patients should be welcomed.
“While this research is in its infancy the results of this study appear to be very promising.
“We are continuing to support Sarah to help her try and come to terms with what happened to her the best she can.”
The NHS Trust stated that the misdiagnosis was down to “human error” and offered an apology to Sarah.
A spokesperson said: “A misdiagnosis of this kind is exceptionally rare and we understand how devastating this has been for Sarah and her family.
“In addition to an unreserved apology to Sarah, the findings of the investigation have been shared with her and the case is now part of an on-going legal claim with which the Trust is co-operating fully.
“Ultimately the misreporting of the biopsy was a human error so as an extra safeguard all invasive cancer diagnoses are now reviewed by a second pathologist.
“Sarah continues to be in regular contact with the clinical team who treated her and they are always available to discuss any on-going concerns she may have.”