British woman held in Iran being monitored for potential breast cancer

A British woman imprisoned in Iran is being monitored for cancer after finding lumps on her breasts and is "on the verge of a nervous breakdown", her husband said.

Dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been seen by a specialist after discovering the "new lumps" in her breasts.

"Nazanin has been complaining of sharp stabbing pains in her breasts for some months – her breasts have been painful since month 5 of her detention," said Richard Ratcliffe.

A doctor said that it was likely that the lumps were benign, but warned cancer can be triggered by stress and her case should be kept "under close surveillance", according to the update from the Free Nazanin campaign.

She is due to see the specialist in a week to learn whether she may need an operation.

Her family said that she had sometime been left waiting "a number of months" before she was able to see an outside medical specialist for health issues.

Reports of her condition will increase pressure for UK authorities to secure her freedom.

It comes after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was drawn into a growing row after he mistakenly said the mother was in Iran training journalists in an error that risks increasing her sentence.

Those comments were picked up by Iran as an "unintended admission of guilt" and used as a pretext for new charges that could extend her sentence by another five years.

Michael Gove also became embroiled in the row as he backed Mr Johnson today, saying did not know what she was doing in Iran.

Her family and employer at the Thompson Reuters Foundation have both repeatedly confirmed she was visiting her parents with her two-year-old daughter when she was arrested in April 2016.

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have been criticised for comments over the case. Credit: PA

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has "expressed anger" at Boris Johnson over the "shambles" her case has become.

She is feeling upset and struggles to cope with her daily life in prison, her family said.

"She noted that she is very down, that she cannot handle all this. It is too much pressure, as she becomes part of hostile daily news," her husband said.

"This weekend she again suggested she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown – a perpetual sense of not knowing what to do."

However, the family have said they do not believe the Foreign Secretary should quit.

Mr Ratcliffe said he spoke to Mr Johnson for about 20 minutes on Sunday morning, during which the Cabinet minister said he was "deeply sorry for Nazanin's suffering".

He is hoping to meet Mr Johnson in personnext week to discuss the case, and has also urged the Foreign Secretary to come to Iran with him.