Woman sues HSE over ‘failure to diagnose’ breast cancer

Eileen Fennessy, who later had mastectomy, says disease there to be seen at time of earlier scan

A woman has claimed she would not have had to undergo chemotherapy or a right side mastectomy if her breast cancer had been diagnosed when she went for a Breast Check mammogram almost a year earlier.

In High Court proceedings, Eileen Fennessy has sued the HSE over alleged failure to diagnose breast cancer in a November 2011 mammogram.

Pat Treacy SC, for Ms Fennessy (69), a retired teacher of The Meadows, Piltown, Co Kilkenny, said her GP had found a large mass in her right breast in October 2012 and referred her for an ultrsound and a biopsy.

She was shown to have a Grade 2 carcinoma and began chemotherapy straight away, he said. A right side mastectomy was carried out in April 2013.


Counsel told the court it was Ms Fennessy’s contgention the chemotherapy and mastectomy would not have been required if the correct diagnosis had been made when she had the mammogram in 2011.

“What was properly diagnosed in 2012 was there to be seen in 2011,” he said.


While Ms Fennessy is now cancer free, the underlying diagnosis for her was extremely serious and devastating, he added.

Ms Fennessy has sued the HSE, which oversees the Breast Check National Breast Screening Programme, for alleged negligence and breach of duty.

Outlining the claim, Mr Treacy said Ms Fennessy had mammograms in November 2002 and 2004 which showed normal.

She also underwent a mammogram on October 23rd 2009 and November 25th 2011, both of which were reported as showing no evidence of cancer.

However, in October 2012, she attended her GP who found a large mass in her right breast and referred her to Waterford Regional Hospital. A biopsy after an ultasound found a Grade 2 carcinoma.

It is claimed the mammogram of November 25th, 2011 was reported as normal but was in fact suspicious of cancer and Ms Fennessy should have been recalled for further investiagtion.

It is claimed Ms Fennessy suffered misdiagnosis and delay in diagnosis, was exposed to unecessary risk of deterioration and her disease was permitted to progress untreated.

The HSE denies the claims.

The case before Mr Justice Kevin Cross continues on Friday.