She was later found to have cancer which had spread which came back after treatment. She was given a life expectancy of approximately three years from the date of that diagnosis.
In June 2001, the Claimant (“C”) was suffering with pain in her left breast and itchiness around the nipple and a practice nurse had felt lumpiness in the area. She then saw the GP who examined her and noted ‘fibroadenotic’ breasts with no discreet lumps. He reassured C that patients with breast cancer did not suffer from pain.
However, about 15 months later, C saw a different GP, with concerns about her left breast. Urgent referral to hospital was arranged where C was diagnosed as having a malignant lump. A large tumour occupying most of the upper part of her left breast was shown by mammogram. Sadly the cancer was an aggressive form of cancer and it had spread.
C had removal of her breast (a mastectomy) and a breast implant and then commenced chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In 2007, C had recurrent cancer in the form of painful rib metastasis. She was prescribed new drugs to treat this.
C brought a claim in negligence against her GP for failing to refer her to a breast surgeon in 2001. C alleged that if the diagnosis had been made in 2001, she would not have needed a mastectomy and breast implant or chemotherapy.
Liability was admitted. It was admitted that C should have been referred to a breast surgeon in 2001 and that if she had been she would have been given a diagnosis. However, D argued that due to the nature of the disease C would still have needed mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
C’s reduced life expectancy was much reduced. She only had a 3-year life expectancy (2 years remaining at the date of settlement). She was left suffering from fatigue, as well as pain in her legs and reduced mobility. She gained weight and suffered with sleep disturbance. She experienced mental health issues with mixed anxiety and a depression for which she took anti-depressant medication and underwent cognitive behavioural therapy.
C was absent from work for periods of time and reduced her working hours to part-time. She needed help with domestic tasks. She had a severely disabled adult son for whom there was a 24-hour care regime in place, paid for by the local authority. C had managed the carers, spending four to five hours per week but after she became ill she was unable to continue providing the same level of case management for her son. Care experts agreed that her services needed to be replaced by those of a professional case manager.
C could have chosen to take an interim payment of compensation and not settle her case before her death. This would have allowed for her dependants to continue the claim after her death and could have further maximised the total value of the claim. However, having been fully advised about that option, she chose to reach a full and final settlement in her lifetime.