Early diagnosis of cancer is essential
Whilst nobody wants to hear that they have cancer, the sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the better. Delays in diagnosis and treatment can make a significant difference to your quality of life, the treatment options available to you and to your chances of recovery. If those delays were due to negligence on the part of your GP, consultant or hospital and could have been avoided, you may be entitled to compensation.
Have you suffered because of a cancer misdiagnosis?
If there is a delay in diagnosis of cancer, this can mean that the treatment you require is different and that your long-term prognosis is worse. For instance, you may now need chemotherapy in addition to surgery compared to six months earlier when surgery alone would have been enough. Or you may need a mastectomy for breast cancer when earlier diagnosis might have led to you just requiring a lumpectomy and not losing your breast. Your chances of five-year survival may also have been reduced.
Ways that cancer misdiagnosis and treatment errors can happen
- Failure of the GP or hospital to recognise potential signs of cancer
- Failure to order the appropriate diagnostic tests or refer to a specialist
- Mistakes in interpreting test results
- Delays in contacting the patient to inform of test results leading to lack of follow-up
- Misdiagnosis of the stage or type of cancer leading to ineffective treatment
- Mistakes made during administering treatment
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Medical Negligence Solicitor
“Delays in diagnosis or treatment of cancer can have devastating consequences for patients and their families.”
More about cancer and medical negligence
Delayed cancer diagnosis
Cancer is caused by changes in the body's cells. As there are 200 different types of cell in the body, there are many types of cancer. Some cancers are slow to advance, others are more invasive and more aggressive. Whilst most can be diagnosed by appropriate tests, if the right tests are not ordered, the results not interpreted correctly or the results not acted upon, this can lead to delays in diagnosis and, subsequently, delays in treatment.
Delayed cancer treatment
Delays in treatment can mean that the cancer spreads to nearby tissues or to other areas of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. A tumour left untreated can cause pressure on other parts of the body such as the brain, lungs, bowel, ureter or other structures, causing pain and complications. Some delays can lead to a patient requiring more invasive treatment, or to their condition becoming terminal.
Inappropriate cancer treatment
Certain screenings can detect cancers that are slow growing and unlikely to cause serious harm to the patient. This can lead to over-diagnosis and over treatment, which in itself can lead to other health complications. Inappropriate treatment can also include inadequate or unnecessary mastectomy for breast cancer.
Failure to refer to specialists
Failure to refer for tests is one of the common complaints against GPs, particularly when it relates to cancer. NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) issues guidelines for practitioners to follow if a patient presents to them with possible symptoms of cancer. The tests vary according to the type of cancer suspected and the age and lifestyle of the patient and include a timeframe within which the tests should be carried out.
Our Latest Cancer Case Studies
Carol Smart, 76, discovered a lump behind the nipple of her left breast. Her GP referred her to hospital where she was given a mammogram and ultrasound scan. She was told that the lump was fibrous tissue and nothing to worry about. She was reassured again after a further mammogram eight months later. She was diagnosed with breast…Read more
In October 2003, Diane Clarke went to see her GP, concerned about post-coital bleeding. She underwent a cervical smear test, followed by a biopsy. The biopsy revealed that she had cervical cancer. Her last test – the previous year – had been reported as normal. However, on re-interpretation, it was revealed that the test had shown…Read more
Ms McKay had a history of asthma and bronchitis and had been a smoker for many years. She attended A&E suffering from weakness in her right leg and arm. A chest X-ray performed six months earlier had been reported as normal and she was reassured and discharged. Over the next couple of years, she continued to feel unwell and…Read more
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Wednesday September 13th 2017 is World Sepsis Day – an initiative by the Global Sepsis Alliance that seeks to reduce deaths from sepsis, a serious condition that affects more than 30 million people a year worldwide. In the UK, sepsis is the leading cause of avoidable death. Around 44,000 people die of it each year…Read more