In the UK around 850 women die each year of cervical cancer. Tragically, that is more than two per day. Additionally, over 220,000 women, and persons with a cervix, are diagnosed with cervical cell changes, each year in the UK.
January 17-23 marks Cervical Cancer Prevention week in the UK, with many charities and health organisations trying to raise awareness of the terrible disease, which remains the 19th most common cancer in the UK.
One of the leading causes of cervical cancer remains exposure to high risk HPV (Human Papillomavirus), although there remain over 200 types of HPV, affecting different parts of the body, of which 13 types are linked to cervical cancer. According to NHS UK, those more at risk include:
- Those under 45
- Those with a weakened immune system
- Those women that have given birth to multiple children or had children at an early age
- Those mothers who have taken hormonal medicine while pregnant
- Women who have had kidney, bladder or vaginal cancer in the past
HPV infection is often asymptomatic, which means many people have the virus without knowing, making it hard to seek early medical advice. However, there are certain warning signs with cervical cancer, and women are advised by NHS UK to seek early medical advice where any of the following symptoms are experienced:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Changes in vaginal discharge
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain in the lower back between hips bones or in lower tummy
Of course, not all these symptoms are related to cervical cancer and early diagnosis is key.
One particular charity supporting cervical cancer prevention is Jo’s Trust (jostrust.org.uk), a charity set up in 1999, following the death of Jo Maxwell from cervical cancer, following her initial diagnosis in 1995. The Trust has worked tirelessly over the past 20 years to raise awareness of cervical cancer, its causes and how to prevent it. As part of its prevention campaign, the Trust has the following tips for people in respect of cervical cancer prevention:
- Be informed. Keep up to date with types of cancer, symptoms, treatments and if necessary, clinical trials, in the event of a cervical cancer diagnosis
- Challenge. If symptoms persist, don’t be afraid to challenge medical opinion and seek a second opinion.
- Be realistic. Don’t always assume the worse. If you are experiencing pain, ask for a further opinion. Do not be ashamed to worry about your health.
- Get screened. Women should have cervical screens every three years. Being screened early can be life saving.
- Vaccination. Encourage vaccination in young women. Many schools offer the vaccine at an early age and it is proving effective against the prevention of cervical cancer. It is also possible to pay privately for a HPV vaccine but many clinics limit this to women 45 years and under.
Where a person does develop cervical cancer, their treatment can involve, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. As with all cancers, early detection is important, but not always absolute.
Carlos Lopez, a Partner in the clinical negligence team at Express Solicitors commented: “I have acted for many women who have developed cervical cancer, sadly after a failure by a GP or other health professional to identify early warnings signs. I have seen first-hand the devastation that this has not only on the client, but family and friends. Early detection appears to be key, but you should not be afraid to challenge your GP, should you feel you are not being listened to.”
Cancer misdiagnosis claims are becoming more common, particularly following the delays encountered by the NHS due to Covid 19.
Carlos recently settled a case for £1.25million for an individual who presented at her GP surgery over many months and whose concerns were not listened to. “Whilst this constituted a successful claim for the Claimant, nothing will make up for the fact that she now has a reduced life expectancy, which could have been prevented,” commented Carlos Lopez.
If you feel that have been misdiagnosed or received a delayed diagnosis by a GP or Consultant, and want to seek further legal advice, contact one of our specialist medical negligence team for a free initial consultation. If we accept your case, then we will discuss a “no win no Fee” agreement with you.