'Unlikely earlier diagnosis could have been made' in case of cancer death woman


An "extremely rare" aggressive cancer which went undiagnosed in 58 visits to doctors and killed a patient was not visible in scans, a coroner has ruled.

Jeanette Scully, 47, from Sunderland, suffered excruciating pain in the months before the rare tumour of her uterus was finally discovered, an inquest heard.

By then it was too late to operate and she died in August last year, having married David, her partner of 22 years, in hospital.

Assistant Coroner Andrew Hetherington has ruled that earlier detection was unlikely to have made a difference.

He concluded the cancer was in a position where it "could not be seen radiologically".

During a two-day hearing at Sunderland Civic Centre, Mr Scully explained how she had made 58 visits to doctors in five months, without being diagnosed.

She was under the care of a gynaecologist and a colorectal specialist and had made trips in agony to the A and E department at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

But none detected the sarcoma of the uterus. Instead she was diagnosed with fibroids.

Mr Scully explained how she had blood in her stools, how she lost up to two-and-a-half stones in around six months, and how she suffered stomach, leg and back pain.

Her widower told the hearing: "The pain she was going through was excruciating.

"She was literally screaming like a fan at a football match."

Mr Scully said the couple sometimes discussed whether she might have cancer. "We just thought, she's had that many people looking at her, it cannot be cancer," he said.

Consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology Simon Steele explained the form of cancer was very rare.

"I think I have personally seen a couple of cases of sarcoma in 20 years, one of which was Jeanette," he told the coroner.

Mr Hetherington concluded: "Jeanette Scully died following a diagnosis of an extremely rare form of aggressive cancer in a location in which it could not be seen radiologically and with symptoms which correlated with fibroids, for which she was being treated.

"It is unlikely that an earlier diagnosis could have been made and, if treatment was instigated earlier, it is unlikely the outcome would have been any different."

After the hearing, Mr Scully said he still had unanswered questions.

"I really didn't know what to do when Jeanette was in so much pain," he said.

"The impact of her death has been enormous and we have struggled to come to terms with what happened to Jeanette in the years before her death and her feeling that her health problems were not being taken seriously.

"We're glad that the coroner has now investigated her death but we are still left with a number of unanswered question about the treatment Jeanette received."

The family is bringing a civil claim against her GPs and the City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Lawyer Michelle Armstrong from the firm Irwin Mitchell said: "We are continuing to investigate the treatment received by Jeanette and will continue to support her family through the legal process and we are determined to help them secure the answers they need about the care she was provided by her local GP and the City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust."