An inquiry into the death of Patricia Rooper, who died following a 'delayed reaction' to the radiation treatment she received more than 30 years ago, has revealed that radiation had caused her death last year at 69 years of age.
Mrs. Rooper was diagnosed with cancer of the left breast in 1971 when she was 34. After a mastectomy, she was also subjected to intensive radiotherapy at Hammersmith hospital in London. There she received 20 installments of radiotherapy spread over four weeks.
In 1972, Patricia Rooper was completely cleared from the disease following a month of radiotherapy. But the treatment had left her debilitated with a host of health problems that plagued her in the following years.
Mrs. Roper, suffered unrelenting cough, fractured ribs and scarring in the chest. Her left had become semi-paralyzed. Last year she died following a hemorrhage.
During the investigation following her death, doctors noticed scar tissue covered over her chest, due to which her internal organs were compressed. This led to lack of blood supply in certain parts of her body.
Coroner Peter Bedford during the investigation hearing ruled that Mrs. Roper died as a result of a delayed reaction to radiotherapy. He said: 'One is almost shocked to hear that somebody should endure such a treatment when it is designed to help them overcome a disease. But I must bear in mind that the way in which radiotherapy was approached has now been refined. In 1971 the world was a different place and doctors felt that the important thing was to zap the cancer without much thought for the consequences for the patient afterwards.'
According to Mr. Jean McFarlane, who belongs to the Radiotherapy Action Group Exposure, the Government will certainly pay compensation for victims when radiation treatment is officially recognized as the cause of death.
Michael Williams, Vice President of Royal College of Radiologists, said: 'Sadly, Mrs. Roper was a very rare case of a patient who has an extreme reaction to radiotherapy. Research is currently under way to discover why these cases occur.'