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Cancer misdiagnosis and late diagnosis claims

Cancer is a devastating condition affecting increasing numbers of families in the UK. The shock of diagnosis is difficult to come to terms with, but it is especially distressing to learn that the condition could have been diagnosed and treated sooner.

Often we are instructed by patients who had seen either their GP or a hospital specialist some months or even years before they were diagnosed with cancer and presented themselves for tests at a very early stage. Quite reasonably they consider that had they been diagnosed sooner they would have either had a better prognosis or may not have needed such radical treatment.

Not all cases of late diagnosis or cancer misdiagnosis result in a successful compensation claim. Our task in these cases is to find answers from specialists to see whether a claim may be made. Some cancers are aggressive and difficult to treat in any event with poor prospects of survival. With less common cancers, it can be difficult to diagnose and accordingly hard to bring a successful claim alleging medical negligence.

Each case will turn on its own facts depending on the period of delay, the prospects of effective treatment when diagnosis could have been made and the difference that delay may have made to the outcome.

Types of cancer claims

We are often asked to advise patients suffering from breast, prostate and cervical cancer but also have experience of delayed diagnosis of melanoma, brain tumours, lung cancer, stomach and gastrointestinal cancer, bladder and urological cancers, bowel cancer and Gynaecological cancers.

Why do medical mistakes arise?

Some failures of cancer care arise because of non-referral by a GP or of misdiagnosis, where a hospital Consultant fails to identify malignancy, giving a patient a clean bill of health when they should not have done.

Other failures are sadly administrative and we have seen cases of worrying test results or radiology simply filed in a patient’s records without any follow up. Some patients with a chronic condition which might leave a predisposition to cancer and which needs surveillance are lost to follow up and in the intervening years develop malignant disease. We also see from time to time, errors in pathology where a cohort of patients have wrongly been given the all clear.

These types of medical errors are never easy to explain and should not happen but are devastating if a treatable cancer becomes terminal.

Can a compensation claim be made after death?

In those cases where a Claimant has a terminal diagnosis, our experts will work sensitively with them to try and establish as quickly as possible whether a medical claim may succeed. The right to bring a claim survives after death and the claim for compensation can then be pursued by family members in most instances. Find out more about claiming for a death caused by medical negligence.

Contact a medical negligence solicitor

If you or a family member has been affected by a late cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis and you think you may have a claim, call us now on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online.

Your key contacts

Kerry Fifield

Partner and Clinical Negligence Team Manager

Kerry’s primary focus is the needs of the client and their family when pursuing a claim, taking into account that each client is an individual with specific requirements who needs to be supported in addition to the legal investigation.
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Marguarita Tyne

Head of Personal Injury & Medical Negligence

Marguarita Tyne is a claimant clinical negligence solicitor who investigates and brings claims on behalf of patients who have been injured during the course of their medical treatment, acting mainly (but not exclusively) for brain injury claimants in high value and often complex litigation.
View profile for Marguarita Tyne >

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