Mother says lump that GP said was ulcer on tongue turned out to be cancer

Nicole Freeman and her child Neveah.

A new mother was just months away from death when she discovered a lump that she claims her GP repeatedly said was a mouth ulcer - which turned out to be oral cancer.

Nicole Freeman, 25, ended up having to have radiotherapy, chemotherapy and half her tongue removed.

She first contacted her surgery in November 2020, when she was pregnant and had noticed a lump on her tongue.

Unable to attend the surgery due to Covid restrictions, Ms Freeman and her husband Jake spoke to a GP over the phone. The doctor asked them to send pictures of the lump.

Over the following six months, the sore got worse and the couple tried "at least six times" to get an in-person GP appointment. Ms Freeman was asked to send more pictures and try Bonjela, medicated mouthwash and vitamin B, they said.

Ms Freeman gave birth to her child Neveah in March.

"The midwife noticed that Nicole had the ulcer on her tongue and she wasn’t able to communicate with the midwife, she was using her iPad," Mr Freeman told ITV News.

Hospital staff suggested the new mother have a biopsy. Days later, she was diagnosed with oral cancer and told that, without treatment, she would be dead within three months.

Ms Freeman had a 15-hour operation to remove the tumour. As a result, she lost half of her tongue - surgeons had to use skin and veins from her left arm to rebuild it. They also had to remove the lymph nodes in Ms Freeman's neck after discovering the cancer had spread.

She has had to learn how to talk and swallow again, before undergoing courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

"It was really upsetting," Mr Freeman said.

"If we were able to get in [the surgery] earlier we probably would not have needed to go down the route of having hospitalisations and operations."