Woman mistakenly receives two years of chemo for non-existent cancer

Hospital bed illustration 
By: Tanya Malhotra 

A woman underwent two years of grueling cancer treatments for a non-existent cancer, according to press reports in Sweden.

The woman in eastern Sweden underwent chemotherapy for two years before doctors realized that the cancerous tumors which were treated, never existed in the first place.

"It is extremely regrettable," Lars-Goran Holtby, the Gavle Hospital chief physician, said. The woman, who was identified to be in her 60s, had battled breast cancer before and after complaining of back pain, doctors feared that the cancer had spread. Doctors thought that x-rays showed she had tumors in the liver and other vital organs.

A rigorous treatment program began, including chemotherapy, radiation and cortisone. The treatments, which lasted two years, caused a number of debilitating side effects such as bone fragility and a compressed vertebrae.

Doctors also found that the treatment had damaged parts of the woman’s brain, reducing her skills
and her ability to control her hands.

Further examination revealed that doctors had misdiagnosed the woman with cancer. They realized that what they had seen on the x-rays two years ago were not really tumors.

However, the unnecessary treatment has left the woman with permanent injuries, prompting the hospital to submit a report to the National Board of Health and Welfare.

"We are very sorry for this and wish this could be undone," Holtby said.