Advice Centre

Cancer- late diagnosis, misdiagnosis and delayed treatment of cancer claims

Posted by Posted in Medical Negligence

The word cancer is synonymous with either death or a terminal illness yet if caught in time some patients do recover successfully.  With advance in medicine patients have a better chance of survival if the condition is diagnosed in a timely manner so as to allow medical intervention and treatment to start promptly. Patients and families go through anguish and shock when they are told they have cancer. Now, imagine if they discover that the cancer could have been picked up earlier but it was not.  

Due to pressures on the NHS along with backlog caused by the pandemic, many patients and their families will find their cancer was diagnosed late. However, sometimes patients may find that their cancer has been wrongly diagnosed and as a result they do not get the correct treatment in time to give them a fighting chance of recovery.

We are often instructed by clients who had been to see their GP or a hospital consultant over a period of time with concerning symptoms, sometimes this can be over a period of years before they are finally told they have cancer.  If it was possible to make an earlier diagnosis this would have meant the patient may have been treated conservatively.  A missed opportunity to diagnose and treat cancer can be devastating for the patient and their families. Late diagnosis often result in terminal diagnosis where the patient ends up with palliative care or where the patient needs radical or even invasive treatment such as chemotherapy because it was not diagnosed sooner.

When a client is deprived of an earlier diagnosis and timely treatment this can result in a successful claim for medical negligence compensation.  Most cancers can be treated successfully provided the cancer has not progressed but there will be instances where it was not possible to make an earlier diagnosis, and even if it had been identified sooner, if the cancer is too advance the outcome would be no different, if so there will be no claim for medical negligence.

Some cancers can be rare and difficult to diagnose but the difference in when the cancer is diagnosed and when the right treatment is started can make all the difference to the patient’s overall recovery and outcome.  Every case is different and this in turn means each case needs to be carefully investigated in order to determine whether there was any negligence and if there was, what difference that would have made to the patient’s quality of life and life expectancy.

What types of cancer claims can be made? 

The kind of cases we have experience in include advising clients suffering from lung cancer, breast cancer, gastrointestinal and bladder cancer, bowel and rectal cancer, gynaecological cancers, cervical cancer, prostate and brain tumours. We would be able to help a client with any type of cancer claim if there is evidence that an error was made.

What can lead to a medical negligence cancer claim?

If it can be proved that there was a failure to refer the patient for appropriate investigation or to a specialist team by the G.P. for example, then that can result in a claim. Or, if the MRI scan shows a tumour but it is misinterpreted or the specialist informs the patient that they have nothing to worry about and it later transpires that they had a tumour which required treatment then there could be a claim. If the specialist fails to carry out appropriate investigation where the cancer could have been picked up so for example, if  a female patient repeatedly goes to the consultant complaining of a lump in her breast but the specialist does not investigate this by doing a biopsy or a scan there could be a claim.  In short where the cancer if picked up earlier but it was not due to a missed opportunity on the part of those in charge of the patient can be a potential claim for medical negligence.

Sometimes there can be an administrative error where a patient on surveillance is not followed up resulting in the patient developing a recurrent and malignant cancer this can be a potential claim.  While any mistake is not deliberate a mistake which results in devasting consequences for the patient should not be overlooked.

How can we help?

Our team of experts are familiar with cancer related claims and we will try to understand your journey by doing the best we can to investigate your case.  We can also help clients where they have a terminal diagnosis or families where they have sadly lost a loved one because their cancer was diagnosed either too late or was misdiagnosed.  As there are strict time limits within which to make a claim if in doubt, it is best to seek legal advice from a specialist medical negligence team at the earliest possible opportunity. If you or a family member has been affected by a late cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis or have suffered due to a delay in treatment, and you think you may have a claim, call us.

If you would like to have an informal chat with our Clinical Negligence experts in confidence to see if you have a viable claim then please complete the contact form on our website and we will give you a call back at a time convenient to you or please call/ contact Daxa Patel, Clinical Negligence Partner & Solicitor by contacting us on 0330 107 0107 or email  Once we are contacted by you, one of our helpful team members will contact you. Please note we have a team of lawyers who speak many languages including English, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Lithuanian.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

Published by:

Daxa PatelPartner & Solicitor

Clinical Negligence – IMD Solicitors LLP

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