Lincolnshire woman misdiagnosed with endometriosis dies from liver and bowl cancer

  • Report by Amelia Beckett

The family of a mother-of-three who died from cancer after being misdiagnosed with another condition say they are fighting for answers.

Laura Barlow, who was 33, died at her home near Stickney, Lincolnshire, on 5 February – four months after being told she had endometriosis following a telephone call with a GP.

She discovered she had terminal liver and bowel cancer just weeks before her death.

Her loved ones are now calling for phone appointments to be phased out.

"If they had brought her in and done some blood tests, could they have found this?", her husband Mike said.

"We're not in Covid [lockdown] any more. Face-to-face saves lives."

Laura Barlow at her wedding Credit: Mike Barlow

Mrs Barlow began having severe stomach pains in October 2023 and noticed blood in her stool.

Mr Barlow said, following a telephone appointment, Stickney Surgery diagnosed her with endometriosis, prescribed medication and booked a face-to-face appointment.

She received a letter telling her she would not be seen until February, but by December she was in so much pain she attended Boston Pilgrim Hospital's urgent care department.

Mrs Barlow was given morphine, but was discharged after being told nothing could be done to help because her doctor was already dealing with the endometriosis.

She was taken back to accident and emergency on New Year's Eve and her sister, Lisa Codd, pushed for more tests to be done.

Laura's sister, Lisa Codd Credit: ITV Calendar

An ultrasound and CT scan on 2 January showed lesions on her liver. By 23 January she was told she had cancer.

"I feel angry, but also guilty sometimes", Ms Codd said. "I think 'should I have advocated for her, should I have said something else?'

"But at the end of the day they are doctors, they knew better than I did."

The family had one last holiday together at Center Parcs before Laura died peacefully at home.

Her loved ones want to find out why Laura's cancer was not picked up earlier.

Mr Barlow said: "There are failings in multiple areas. If bloods were taken earlier, things might have shown up. It's not going to bring Laura back but something needs to be done for other people. They've got to stop over-the-phone diagnoses. I will keep fighting this until it is sorted. I want to do it for the kids in their mum's name.

"I hope raising awareness of what happened to Laura can save someone's life. She was struggling in pain and everyone down the line could've helped her. And now I've got to bury her. We've explained to the children that their mum is with the angels in the sky."

In a joint statement, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust and Stickney Surgery said: "We would like to offer our deepest condolences to Laura's family at this difficult time. We are unable to comment on individual cases, however, we are in touch with the family to hear and respond to their concerns and we will do that directly with them as is appropriate."

Mr Barlow said he had arranged a meeting with hospital chief executive Andrew Morgan to discuss his concerns.

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