Patients at a GP practice in Yorkshire were wrongly told by text message on Christmas Eve that they had terminal lung cancer.
The surgery, near Doncaster, said it had meant to send out “Merry Christmas” messages instead.
A father awaiting the results of a lung cancer test - which came back negative - was reportedly among those who got the text.
Facebook user Vicky Southgate shared the message and said she was "shaking and close to tears".
The text asked for “a DS1500 for the above patient. Diagnosis — Aggressive lung cancer with metastases”.
DS1500 is the name of the form given to people who have a terminal illness, describing their symptoms and treatments.
Metastasis is the term used by medics when cancer spreads from where it was first found to other parts of the body.
"Something’s clearly not right at Askern Medical Practice,” Ms Southgate said.
“Fuming. I received this message and I’m not the only one,” she added. “I was shaking and close to tears.
"Quite a few in the surgery now with the same text”.
A follow-up text sent by Askern Medical Practice said: “Please accept our sincere apologies for the previous text message sent.
“This has been sent in error. Our message to you should have read: We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. In case of emergency please contact NHS 111 email@example.com.”
People commenting on the post by Ms Southgate said they knew of others who had also received the text.
Others, meanwhile, questioned why sensitive patient information was apparently shared by text message.
Chris Reed, a 58-year-old property developer from Norton, said his partner burst into tears after he got the message.
Mr Reed said he immediately tried to call the surgery but couldn’t get through because the lines were jammed.
He said he then went to the practice demanding to see a doctor and was told the text was a mistake and that his results were negative.
“They went from, ‘You’ve got lung cancer’ to ‘Merry Christmas’ in about an hour,” Mr Reed told The Sun. “Unbelievable.”
Askern Medical Practice was contacted for comment.
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