A 23-year-old British mother died of cervical cancer after she explained her symptoms to doctors on nine separate occasions and doctors refused to give her a Pap smear because they said she was too young.
Keely Devine spent the last four months of her life in the hospital before she died on Sept. 7, 2013. Her family is now suing the National Health Service for negligence.
Devine first complained of pain in her hip and abdomen, as well as heavy bleeding, after she gave birth to her son in 2010.
She visited her general practitioner more than six times and went to the hospital three times before doctors discovered a large tumor blocking her cervix in January 2013. The cancer had spread to her pelvis and was affecting her bowel and bladder, the Daily Mail reported.
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Devine’s mother, Alexandra Dickinson, has specialist medical attorneys investigating if more could have been done by doctors to diagnose her daughter sooner.
“As a family we are still coming to terms with losing Keely and in such tragic circumstances,” said Dickinson, who is now caring for her grandson, 3-year-old Jayden.
“She was incredibly frightened and in a great amount of pain,” Dickinson recalled. “She began to struggle to communicate with us and was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with her deterioration. She became wheelchair bound and extremely weak. She wanted to spend time with Jayden, but she didn't want him to see and remember her in so much pain and distress.”
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NHS Pap smears are currently administered to women between age 25 and 64 because the guidelines state that cervical cancer is rare in women under 25.
In the U.S. the CDC recommends Pap tests for all women age 21 to 65.
“Delays in promptly diagnosing and treating cervical cancer can have devastating consequences and it is vital that doctors focus on the symptoms rather than the age of a woman when deciding whether or not it might be cancer,” said Dickinson’s attorney Rachelle Mahapatra.
Image Source: Canwest News Service