Woman suffering from cancer fears delay in diagnosis could cost her life
A WOMAN diagnosed with cancer says she fears she could lose her life after she claims it took months to diagnose the disease.
Vicki Skelton, 47, has had primary lymphoedema, a chronic condition that causes swelling in the body's tissue, in her left leg for more than 20 years.
She said she has almost always managed the condition herself as services to control the symptoms are not available locally.
But after her leg began to bleed, and what she thought was a blood blister appeared, she sought medical help through her GP in April and Hull's accident and emergency department in July.
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Now, five months on, Vicki said doctors have confirmed she has angiosarcoma, a rare cancer of the blood vessels, and could lose her leg and even her life.
She now faces an anxious wait for tests results to know the extent of the disease and she could undergo surgery as early as Wednesday.
But Vicki, of east Hull, claims her prognosis may be better if services to manage the primary lymphoedema were available in Hull and the tumour in her leg had been detected sooner.
She said: "I'm numb. There is treatment for cancer patients if they have lymphoedema as a side effect, but not if it's primary.
"It didn't have to be like this.
"They don't know if the cancer has spread. I believe this could have been picked up earlier.
"Now, I'm faced with uncertainty and wondering if I'm going to live.
"I have been let down."
Vicki said the nearest services for primary lymphoedema patients are in Leeds and she has seen experts there in the past. She said: "If the tumour had been spotted sooner, it might have been a simple operation. But now I have been told it is huge.
"It started off smaller than a fingernail in April but no one knew it was cancer then."
Vicki said although starting treatment for primary lymphoedema symptoms may be too late for her, she does not want others to suffer.
She lobbied her MP Karl Turner, who arranged a meeting with chairman of the NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Tony Banerjee. Dr Banerjee has agreed to look at setting up a specialist service locally.
Mr Turner said: "Tony Banerjee has listened. The sad thing for Vicki is if there was treatment available in Hull, the cancer may have been caught earlier."
Vicki was initially seen by doctors at Hull Royal Infirmary and later Castle Hill Hospital, as well as her GP in east Hull.
Dr Banerjee said he could not comment on Vicki's case due to patient confidentiality.
However, he said: "We will be looking at how we can work with Miss Skelton and our local healthcare professionals to improve services for other Hull residents with non-cancerous lymphoedema in the future.
"NHS Hull CCG's planning and commissioning group will therefore be considering proposals for the provision of a local specialist service for non-cancerous lymphoedema at its meeting next month."
A spokeswoman for Hull And East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital, said it was not appropriate to comment.