Two women misdiagnosed with cancer had their breasts removed unnecessarily at Royal Darwin Hospital, it has been revealed.

One of the women, aged 60, who moved to Darwin in 2012, was told she had breast cancer after a routine mammogram and subsequent biopsy in 2013.

A senior surgeon at the Royal Darwin Hospital advised that her entire left breast would need to be removed urgently.

Speaking to ABC's 7.30 program, the woman said: "And it was performed rather quickly, within two weeks."


Weeks later she was called back to the surgeon who told her: "I've got good news and bad news to tell you: the good news is you don't have breast cancer. The bad news is you never did have breast cancer and we should never have taken your breast off."

The woman said she began to feel the "horror of the mistake". "How dare they make the mistake," she told the program.

"I lost faith in the medical system in Darwin. In fact, after it happened to me, all the colleagues I worked with said, 'Oh, don't you know? You live in Darwin. The saying is: you feel the pain, book a plane.' And this information came to me after, a little bit late."

The same pathologist also misdiagnosed a 25-year-old breastfeeding mother from Alice Springs who subsequently underwent a mastectomy.

While the older woman has been compensated by the hospital - the details which cannot be divulged due to legal reasons - the Alice Springs mother is yet to receive compensation for the mistake.

NT News received a statement from, Dr Charles Pain, the executive director of Medical Services at Top End Health Service. He said: "The major impact on the two women affected is very much regretted by the Department of Health and both Health Services, who are continuing to work closely with the women to provide appropriate follow-up and ongoing care."

According to, Australian health minister Natasha Fyles also issued a statement saying: "The mistakes have been reviewed by the appropriate bodies and recommendations implemented to ensure this doesn't happen again and ensure Territorians can have faith in the Royal Darwin Hospital.

"These were tragic errors and we acknowledge the absolute distress caused to the two patients and their families."