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Woman receives devastating cancer diagnosis in doctor's letter — except it was all just a typo


What an awful experience

Photo by SSPL/Getty Images

A British woman received a heartbreaking cancer diagnosis from her doctor's office, but as it turned out, the letter she received contained a simple — but devastating — typographical error.

What are the details?

Nicola Denyer, a 39-year-old from Ramsgate, Kent, visited an ENT, according to Fox News, after experiencing an "uncomfortable feeling" in her throat.

Through a nasal endoscopy, physicians at the Queen Elizabeth Mother Hospital in Margate initially determined she had "nothing to worry about."

Several days later, however, the hospital sent Denyer a letter with a grave diagnosis: She had cancer.

The letter, obtained by Fox News, confirmed that Denyer had "presence of cancer at the base of the tongue."

Paul Valentine, Denyer's partner, said he was concerned by the letter, but after rereading it, determined that there had to be an issue because of the way the news was relayed.

"I was sure it was a mistake, but the word had been used so you can't help but worry," he said.

Indeed, when Denyer contacted the facility, it confirmed that the word "cancer" was in fact supposed to be "candida" — a simple yeast infection of the throat.

How did the error happen?

The facility, which ended up sending Denyer another official letter cancelling out the first, said that the error could be chalked up to a speech recognition software program at the hospital.

A portion of the new letter read, "Please let me reassure you that I saw no evidence of any cancer at all on endoscopy and I can only apologize for the error in your letter."

A spokesperson for the hospital said, "We would like to offer our sincere apologies to Mrs. Denyer for the distress and anxiety caused by this error. All letters are checked by a clinician before they are posted and unfortunately, in this case, the error was missed. We are reminding staff of the importance of thoroughly proofreading all letters to prevent mistakes like this happening again."

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