Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Family in Call for Screening Improvement

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Family in Call for Screening Improvement

Article excerpt

Byline: Katie Davies Chief Reporter

LOVED ones whose lives were devastated by cancer are calling for better screening programmes.

Rachel Harrison was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July 2009, just months after a dream wedding to long-term partner Peter and as they were hoping to start a family.

Despite undergoing extensive treatment, she died nearly three years later, aged just 31, after developing secondary bowel cancer that spread to her lungs and liver.

Today, as her husband Peter and mum Dianne Crowe, from Hexham in Northumberland, continue to investigate whether more could have been done to detect Rachel's cancer sooner, they pay tribute to her.

Dianne said: "It is incredibly diffi-cult to witness Peter trying to rebuild his shattered life - his and Rachel's hopes and dreams lost, never to be realised.

"I am devastated to have watched Rachel endure a long, painful and debilitating illness. As her mother I need to understand why I had to lose my daughter to a cancer, which with appropriate screening, should be caught at a time when it is curable.

"We are also concerned that when Rachel was given her screening history, it appeared that there were missed opportunities to recall her sooner."

Peter and Dianne believe there were missed opportunities to diagnose pre-cancerous cells when, after her diagnosis, Rachel requested her screening history.

This revealed Rachel was put on the wrong pathway for repeat smear tests having had one abnormal smear in 2001 when just 20 years old.

When Rachel had a routine smear test in 2007 this was considered 'diffi-cult' but was wrongly reported as normal and without any note of Rachel's previous abnormal smear test. Michelle Armstrong, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell's Newcastle office representing the family, said: "Before she died, Rachel, in the knowledge that she had undergone smear tests, began investigating how it was possible for her to have been diagnosed with advanced cancer when abnormalities should have been picked up earlier by the screening programme. …

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