what would you do??

Hi gels, I hope you are all managing to make the most of the lovely weather in some way.

I just wanted to ask what you would do in this situation. My background is that in January 2007 I noticed a small pea-sized painless lump in my left breast and went straight to the doctor. I have been registered with the same surgery since 1998 but rarely need to see an actual GP it is normally just the nurse for my contraception and on rare occasions I needed to see a GP I have never been fussy about seeing a particular one I just figure they are all equally qualified so I will go to whichever one is available soonest.

The GP that I saw in 2007 was not one I had seen before he was fairly new to the practice. He immediately told me that my lump was a “breast mouse” after a quick fumble, and told me the technical name for one of these, which I think was fibrodanoma but I am probably spelling it wrong. He printed some stuff off the internet for me to take away and read, told me it was nothing to worry about and no point having it removed and I thought, hey he is a GP he knows what he is on about so I heaved a sigh of relief and got on with life. Towards the end of 2007 I was becoming increasingly conscious of the lump and it seemed to have grown in size and had become painful.

While I was on holiday in Goa in December I told my boyfriend that as soon as we were back home and had got Christmas and New Year out of the way I was gonna go back to the doctors and ask for the lump to be removed because it was annoying me and also I didn’t want to become complacent and assume that any other lumps I may develop in the future were nothing to be worried about, or indeed fail to notice any new lumps which may develop by assuming they were the one I already had.

So I made an appointment at my doctor’s surgery the first week in January and explained I had seen a particular GP a year ago for the same concern, however he was no longer with the practice so they made me an appointment for another new one and he was absolutely lovely, the minute I said I wanted the lump removed even if it were not dangerous he agreed and said if any patient came to him with any kind of worry he would get them referred no questions asked because he believes worry is what kills people. Before the week was out I was examined by the top consultant surgeon of the south east and a week after that he called me back with the bad news…

People have been telling me that I should complain about the GP that originally sent me away telling me not to worry, because if I had not gone back for a second opinion when I did, my prognosis could have been a lot worse. The tumour had grown to almost an inch in diameter and nearly all of it was cancer, grade III but thankfully it had not spread (I reckon if I had not been diagnosed when I was, it would have spread by now so thank goodness I went back) At first I said I wanted to focus my energy on getting my head round everything and getting through my treatment. My Critical Illness insurance has paid off so it is not like I want to sue anyone for damages I do not need the money but I am now wondering whether I could prevent some other woman getting “fobbed off” if I report him???

I realise that everyone makes mistakes or mis-judges certain situations but when you’re a doctor there is less room for “human error” Kylie Minogue has also been in the media again recently, saying that SHE was mis-diagnosed the first time she saw a doctor about the lump and we all know what happened when she went back for a second opinion…

Would you do anything in ny situation?

Sorry that was an essay but I think I am well enough known on here by now that people expect me to use 1000 words where 10 would do :slight_smile:

similar thing has happened to me - I had my lump looked at in 1991 ish - they referred me to breast clinic who told me it was a cyst and I didnt need to have it removed. I went back time after time , year after year ‘just to be sure’ . It slowly grew larger over the years and last month I went back as it was the size of a large orange. Again, new doctor - different oppinion - I had a wide local excision 2 weeks ago and went back yesterday to have the dressing removed. I was told ( to my utter horror ) that the lump was malignant and they would need to do a mastectomy.
IF they had done a biopsy when I first went in to see them they would have seen it was a phyllodes tumor - which just keeps getting bigger. the first biopsy I had was 4 weeks ago. My friends are all saying ’ thats negligence’ Im in too much shock to think along those lines - but it does niggle at me a bit. I think all lumps should have a biopsy done - just to be on the safe side. Im only 38 and now my fab chest is going to be ruined :frowning:

fair enough, although I fail to see why anyone with BC would be offended by the p word in the grand scheme of life :slight_smile:

hi Jenny, as well as the fact you have been back year after year and nobody did any biopsy, I am also astounded that they did not do all the tests BEFORE the surgery. When I first saw the consultant surgeon he had a feel and put the ultrasound on, and said hmmm this does not look or feel serious to me but of course I will take some fluid from the lump and send it to the lab just to be sure… when he called me back to his surgery to tell me the needle test had shown signs of cancer he said it was as much a shock to him as it was to me, and he explained that my planned WLE that was meant to be happening on the Monday morning (it was the Friday evening when he called me in and I KNEW what he was gonna say) would have to be postponed while they did more tests. They took a biopsy from the lump, did a mammogram and an ultrasound on both breasts, the ultrasound revealed a lump in my other breast so they took a biopsy from that too, chest x-ray and blood tests. Thankfully all these tests came back OK but the idea was, if things were more serious that I would need more than a WLE then they wanted to know in advance so they only need open me up once.

Your fab chest does not need to be ruined - after you have had the masectomy can you not have a reconstruction and get them to make the other side match and get a cracking new pair? I am naive about this as I just had a WLE but if things had been different that’s what I would have done and I assume it is do-able on the NHS if you can’t afford it because of the psychological side of things? If I am talking out of my backside then forgive me xxx

they are planning to do mastectomy and reconstruction all in one hit. Im just SO frightened of it all. Up until about a month ago nothing was done - I had ultra sounds and a mamogram ( once ) but never a biopsy. once they knew it was a phyllodes tumour the wheels starting rolling at breakneck speed and they took out the lump. Having done some tests now on the lump ( I assume) I now have to go through more trauma of an op ( I turn into 5 year old child, wailing etc - thinking Im going to die on the table!!) and this time its a biggie. How do I snare a husband / boyfriend in less than 2 months to make the most of what I have at the moment!!!

if I knew the answer to that question sweetie I would bottle it up and retire to the Maldives xx

HI Clarabel & Jenny,

In Scotland NHS complaints are handled by CABx. I dunno the situation in England, if that’s where you are. I do think you ought to complain. I am fairly sure that it was decided that GPs do not have the specialist knowledge required to decide whether or not a lump is anything serious and all cases ought to be referred to hospital as a matter of course.

However Jenny, as Clarabel says, your chest need not be ruined. I am sure you will be offered a reconstruction. Apparently if you are a big girl, the cutting edge thing now is to give you a tummy tuck and use the fat from that to rebuild your boob. As I desperately need a tummy tuck (2 kids in 15 months) I was mildly annoyed to get away with a big lumpectomy! lol

Do complain, or use CAB to complain on your behalf if you aren’t up to it. Standards will not improve unless we complain about poor service. How many other people has that GP made the same mistake with? Attention needs to be drawn to this.

Take care
Sue xx

I think I will. As you say, how many other women has he sent away. The thing I was originally annoyed with him for was that he didn’t take my bra off - because he was young and good looking. Now I wonder whether he didn’t really want to deal with ladieees things, I always thought there was no need to see a female GP for female matters as I have always been told that a breast or vagina or penis is no different to any other body part to a doctor. Maybe I was wrong.


I think there are two main reasons why people file negligence claims - one is for financial compensation (which you say you don’t want) and to ensure that the same thing doesnt happen to someone else. I think in your case, you need some answers such as why the GP decided not to send you. I don’t think you need to go down the suing route if you don’t want to because that is probably so stressful but you should ask the General Medical Council to investigate for you. I am in dentistry and our equivalent the General Dental Council will investigate any complaint thoroughly. You would then get the full story and if the doctor was negligent, he will be disciplined. If he wasn’t, then at least you will know why he didnt refer.

Hi Cathy and thanks for this. I don’t even want him to lose his job I just want to be sure nobody else goes un-diagnosed. Being told I had cancer was the worst thing I have ever been told, but knowing I had had the lump for a year or more and could easily have NOT been diagnosed feels even worse. You are right I do not need any money and I do not want to give myself any stress I just want other people to know that they have the right to challenge everything. As a woman I do not even expect to be fobbed off by mechanics or builders.

Hi Clarabel

I don’t think the doctor will necessarily lose his job unless he was grossly negligent ie did this to numerous women. I think the GMC accept that doctors will make the wrong decision somewhere along the line, that is to be expected in any professional. What they are far more likely to do is ensure that he if he did act incorrectly, that he will have to undergo further training to ensure he is up to date etc. I too have found a young doctor who was reluctant to examine my breasts (I didn’t have a problem,this was for an insurance medical) because I think he was basically shy. However, the doctor who did refer me when I did have a problem was a young male also who had no problem with examination. I think it would be appropriate to contact the GMC as they are unlikely to stike him off but will ensure he follows guidelines.

Thanks Cathy that puts my mind at rest somewhat. I am not looking for any kind of blame or revenge just to make sure nobody else is undiagnosed.