Teen fighting for her life after doctors mistake rare cancer for a pulled muscle

Sixteen-year-old Melissa Sutton had always been an athletic teenager. That’s why she and her mother, Alison Brookes, didn’t initially question her doctors' diagnoses of a pulled muscle from a sports injury when Melissa reported shortness of breath and extreme pain near her rib cage, news.com.au reported.

But when painkillers didn’t ease her discomfort— and doctors reportedly remained steadfast in their diagnosis after 10 appointments— Brookes eventually rushed her daughter to the ER, where doctors took an X-ray of Sutton’s chest and abdomen, and detected a collapsed lung. They then learned the true source of Sutton’s pain: Ewing Sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer.

“We felt like our world had been turned upside down when we were given the diagnosis,” Brookes told news.com.au. “For months we knew something was wrong but we weren’t listened to. We were just fobbed off.”

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Ewing Sarcoma is a type of tumor that forms in bone or soft tissue, and it is most common in children and teenagers. In youth under age 15, the survival rate for Ewing Sarcoma is about 78 percent and about 60 percent in adolescents ages 15 to 19 years.

Today, Sutton is fighting for her life, according to news.com.au. The teen, from Rochdale, United Kingdom,  has had four ribs removed, and is undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

The news website reported that Sutton has had 12 rounds of chemo so far and that she has three more to go. She will undergo 30 sessions of radiotherapy total.

In light of her diagnosis, Sutton was afraid to lose her hair, but now, her mother said she is positive and proud to be bald because she is bald for a reason.

“When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was a huge shock. It was news that no teenage girl wants to hear,” Sutton told news.com.au. “The treatment has made me [feel] very poorly,  but I am just glad the cancer was detected when it was. I want to raise awareness so that other people who experience the same symptoms don’t give up and trust their instincts.”

Raj Patel, medical director for NHS England in Greater Manchester and Lancashire, told the news website that the hospital, where Sutton saw 10 different general physicians from the same practice prior to her cancer diagnosis, had not yet received a formal statement from Sutton and Brookes regarding the alleged misdiagnoses.

“Our priority is to ensure that patients receive the highest quality primary care services at all times,” he said, according to news.com.au. “We have not yet received a complaint by Alison or her family but should we do so, we will take the issue forward and investigate it thoroughly.”

Click for more from news.com.au.