An investigation has been initiated on a top surgeon in Britain, who carried out dozens of "cleavage-sparing" mastectomies. The probe started after a patient had breast cancer recurrence
Ian Paterson left small amounts of breast tissue around the cleavage in some NHS patients with the intention of giving them a "better cosmetic result".
AdvertisementGuidelines recommend not leaving excess tissue to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
One patient, identified only as Mrs Stone, received a substantial out-of-court settlement following the return of her cancer - five years after having the supposedly pioneering mastectomy.
Twelve other patients have been recalled to Solihull Hospital in the West Midlands and offered surgery to have any remaining tissue removed.
Another 48 are being monitored as a result of an investigation sparked by colleagues concerned about Paterson's technique.
Mrs Stone, 62, told how it was discovered the cancer had returned following a routine mammogram, when a nurse went against usual practice and checked the operated-on breast.
She said that within weeks of her operation in 2003, an oncologist said he feared she needed another operation because of the amount of breast tissue Paterson had left.
She told the surgeon about the oncologist's concerns, but Paterson said he was "perfectly happy" with the mastectomy so she declined an offer to remove it.
Mrs Stone, from Solihull, said it felt as if she had been hit "with a death sentence all over again" when breast cancer was diagnosed again in 2008.
Although she has now recovered, she said she had been "very badly let down".
A second patient, Jo Pitt, 50, a receptionist, from Meriden, near Coventry, told how she needed further surgery after Paterson carried out the procedure without consulting her.
"For the past ten years, I have been walking around thinking I wasn't at risk and that makes me angry," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
"I'd rather be cancer-free, I don't care about the cosmetic part of it. I was never given a choice," she stated.
Pitt, who has been given the all clear, is now working on a legal case against the surgeon.
Paterson still works at Solihull Hospital but was prevented from carrying out further "cleavage-sparing mastectomies" in June 2007.