A woman booked a mammogram thinking it would saved her life – instead, she is now “looking death in the eye”.
A woman booked a mammogram thinking it would saved her life – instead, she is now “looking death in the eye”.

Breast screen agency missed woman’s deadly tumour

A Victorian woman is calling on Breast Screen Victoria to improve its practices after the government-funded organisation failed to detect her aggressive cancer which is now terminal.

Sharon Kirwood, 52, said the mammogram should've saved her life - instead, she is now "looking death in the eye" after she was incorrectly told her test was clear.

"It's a cold, dark, lonely and horrible place," Ms Kirwood said.

The Geelong mother of two is suing the organisation in the Supreme Court alleging the negligence of Breast Screen Victoria allowed her cancer to spread, resulting in a reduced life expectancy and psychological injury.

Ms Kirwood said she received a letter offering a free breast screen following her 50th birthday in September 2018.

She said she'd had several mammograms previously through private clinics at considerable cost and welcomed the opportunity to have a free screen.

Following the test she received another letter to say her results were "all clear".

"I had no reason at all to doubt them," Ms Kirwood said.

But in December the following year she visited her GP after discovering a lump in her left breast.

Sharon and her husband Wayne were told on Christmas Eve she had stage 4 cancer despite getting the all clear from Breast Screen Victoria a year earlier. Picture: Jay Town
Sharon and her husband Wayne were told on Christmas Eve she had stage 4 cancer despite getting the all clear from Breast Screen Victoria a year earlier. Picture: Jay Town

"(The doctor) called me back pretty quickly and told me it was breast cancer,

"By that stage, it had already spread," she said.

Ms Kirwood was told by her oncologist on Christmas Eve she had stage four cancer.

"I said, it just can't be, it was just over a year ago that I got the all clear."

A review of Ms Kirwood's Breast Screen Victoria mammogram later revealed two radiologists analysing her tests had missed her visible cancer.

"It's not good enough," she said.

"This system should've saved me … now I wont see my kids grow up," she said.

"The service they provide is too important to get wrong."

Slater and Gordon lawyer Bridie Walsh said Breast Screen Victoria was a critical service that needs to be trusted by women.

"It's relied on by women from around the state and they need to be confident that if they present with something, it will be found," Ms Walsh said.

Slater and Gordon, who is representing Ms Kirwood in her claim for damages, is advocating for a review of BSV's processes to ensure "this mistake never happens again".

"Sharon's outcome was completely preventable," she said.

"It's a tragedy it's happened to such a vibrant woman and her family," Ms Walsh said.

Breast Screen Victoria declined to comment.

genevieve.alison@news.com.au

Originally published as Breast Screen Victoria missed woman's deadly tumour


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