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Why a massive tumour went undetected

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 19 February 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:523

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  1. Anonymous

    I was 42 when my sacral chordoma was diagnosed. But an independent surgeon who reviewed my case found that the tumour should have been detected much earlier.

    This was a very unfortunate case of human error

    After nine months of lumbar pain I was referred for an x ray investigation, but the investigating radiologist reported that no abnormalities were found. The subsequent independent review, however, said that my radiographs “clearly” showed that the lower third of the sacrum was missing and that there was a “very obvious” mass arising from the terminal section of the missing sacrum, extending anteriorily and displacing the bowel.

    The tumour remained undiagnosed for a further seven months, allowing it to grow well up the S2 vertebra, until it measured 10 cm in an anterior to posterior direction and 12 cm side to side. This necessitated an anterior and posterior approach to remove the lower half of my sacrum, including the S2 and S3 nerve roots, and a permanent colostomy. I now have to self catheterise about five times a day …

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