Woman Has Breast Removed After Cancer Misdiagnosis: 'Truly Shocking'

A hospital has apologized to a woman who had her right breast removed after she was misdiagnosed with cancer.

Brenda Young, a hospice nurse from the U.K. town of Barnsley, in South Yorkshire, had a routine scan on February 3, 2020, and was later diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, according to a press release from the law firm that has investigated her care.

In invasive cancers, the disease spreads from the place where it originated into healthy tissue.

Surgeons removed Young's breast on February, 26, 2020. After the operation, an analysis of the tissue revealed that she did not have cancer. Young was told on March 5, 2020.

Young said in a statement: "By this time it was too late and I had already undergone the mastectomy."

A report by the hospital group that treated her found the doctor who had assessed her test results did not seek a second opinion.

The nurse then had to wait until November 16, 2020, around eight months later, to have reconstructive surgery because the COVID pandemic delayed non-emergency procedures.

"I felt frustrated that I had undergone removal of my breast for a cancer that I didn't have, but then had to wait so long for reconstruction," she said.

Rebecca Hall, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell who investigated Young's case, said in a statement: "The first-hand account we've heard from Brenda is truly shocking. Understandably what happened to Brenda has not only had a physical effect but also a psychological impact on her."

Young learned of her misdiagnosis around the time that the U.K. went into lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID.

As a nurse, Young was required to return to her workplace before she had the reconstructive surgery. She tried to "disguise" her mastectomy and how it made her feel from her patients.

"I had to live with one breast, which made me feel extremely uncomfortable and self-conscious," she said.

During lockdown, only essential travel and contact with other people was allowed. That meant Young "had to cope with my horror and anguish alone, without having free access to family and friends and other networks to support me."

A spokesperson from Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust told Newsweek it had apologized to Young, and it would be inappropriate to comment further as the case was an ongoing legal matter under investigation.

The spokesperson said: "The trust has co-operated fully into the investigation and the findings of the report were shared with Ms Young. The hospital is always available to discuss any ongoing concerns she may have."

Regarding waiting times for surgeries, a Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust spokeswoman told Yorkshire Live that staff were "working really hard to get services back to pre-COVID levels."

She said: "Patients awaiting treatment are reviewed by clinicians and supported to make shared decisions about their care and supported while they are on a waiting list."

Jackie Murphy, the director of nursing and quality for Barnsley Hospital NHS Trust, wrote in a letter to Young: "On behalf of the trust I would like to apologise that on this occasion the standard of care you received fell below that which you had a right to expect."

Hall said: "We're now investigating what happened to Brenda in more detail and are determined to help her access the specialist support she requires to come to terms with her ordeal.

"We welcome the trust's apology and pledge to learn lessons. Patient safety should always be the fundamental priority in all care."

Update 6/30/21, 6:15 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comments from a Barnsley Hospital spokesperson.

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A stock image shows surgeons performing breast surgery. A woman had her breast removed after she was wrongly diagnosed with cancer. Getty Images