Woman dies after cancer misdiagnosed as pregnancy

Demi Wright with her boyfriend.
Demi Wright with her boyfriend.  Photo: Supplied

When Demi Wright went to hospital with a pain in her side last November, blood tests revealed her body was producing pregnancy hormones. She was sent to the maternity ward.

But after the 22-year-old UK woman's condition deteriorated, she was admitted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where further testing eventually revealed she had an aggressive form of cancer known as adenocarcinoma.

A 12cm tumour was found in Ms Wright's body and she passed away on February 23, just three weeks after the devastating diagnosis.

Demi Wright, 22, before her illness.
Demi Wright, 22, before her illness.  Photo: Supplied

The death of the bubbly young make-up artist and drama school graduate has left her family in shock and struggling to come to terms with their sudden loss.  

"She didn't have a bad bone in her body. She had an infectious, beautiful smile and it showed her personality off," her devastated father Chris Wright told the Colchester Gazette. "It's been devastating."

It was reported that Ms Wright's initial misdiagnosis came after a molar pregnancy went unnoticed and untreated before developing into the deadly tumour.

Molar pregnancy occurs when not only does the foetus not develop properly, but the placenta proliferates out of control, forming a tumour of unwanted placental cells.

The tumour can continue to produce hCG, the human pregnancy hormone, giving the false impression that a woman is carrying a viable pregnancy.

It is very rare for a molar pregnancy to result in cancer and, as Oxford Online Pharmacy GP Dr Helen Webberley told Huffington Post UK, close monitoring of the condition can prevent complications.

​"In this unfortunate case, (the tumour) occurred in the patient's endometrial tissue. This type of growth is also known as a molar pregnancy," she said.

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"Initially, a molar pregnancy acts in the same way as a conventional pregnancy, tests are positive due to the release of the hCG hormone and there is a growth in the uterus. It is only when the patient comes for their 12-week scan that a molar pregnancy is detected.

"The cells need to be removed and most women can expect a full recovery. However, close follow-up is needed because there is a small chance of developing a type of cancer, as appears to be the case with this patient.

"If a cancer does develop, effective treatment is available and most women can be cured."

Demi during her short hospital stay.
Demi during her short hospital stay. Photo: Supplied

Ms Wright's family, including her devastated boyfriend Mitch Gregory, want her remembered as the strong and positive young woman that she was. 

"We feel robbed. It needs to be stressed how much courage she had," Mr Gregory told the Daily-Gazette. "She's our inspiration now."

Mr Wright will always remember the last days with his daughter.

"When we found out the cancer was terminal, she lifted herself up, she patted the bed and said, 'Dad, come and sit here'. She gave me a big hug and said: 'It's going to be okay'," Mr Wright told the Gazette.

"The next day, she passed away."

Ms Wright's grieving family has set up a Just Giving page in her memory. Money raised will go to Cancer Research UK.