Misdiagnosis of cancer still happens far too often in the UK. That matters because 1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. And sadly, this kind of medical negligence often leads to fatalities. If you or a loved one have been the victim of either a delayed or incorrect diagnosis of cancer, you may well have grounds for a cancer misdiagnosis compensation claim.
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Cancer Misdiagnosis Compensation Claims – common causes
When it comes to getting a cancer diagnosis wrong, the 3 most common types of medical negligence are as follows:
1. the problem is not cancer, but you are treated as though you have cancer
2. you have cancer, but you don’t receive the correct treatment
3. you have cancer, but this remains undiagnosed or are there is a significant delay in your diagnosis
Click here to read more about making a medical negligence claim
What are the most common forms of cancer misdiagnosis?
Sadly all types of cancer are prone to misdiagnosis. But the most common errors that give rise to medical negligence claims are the following:
- Breast Cancer – see below for more detail
- Bone cancer – – see below for more detail
- Bowel and colorectal cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Lung Cancer – see below for more detail
- Ovarian Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Skin cancer – see below for more detail
Cancer Misdiagnosis Compensation Claims – proving your case
Establishing liability and causation is the main hurdle in any medical negligence case. Three things must be established for your compensation claim to be successful:
1. The medical practitioner owed the Claimant a duty of care. This is not usually a problem. In the normal course of events, it is clear that a medical practitioner (whether they are on GP, nurse or other medical practitioner), owes a patient a clear duty of care)
2. The Medical Practitioner has breached that duty – this is where negligence comes in
3. The loss suffered by the Claimant is as a result of that breach of duty and not some other cause
A test that is applied in medical negligence cases in terms of breach of duty, to assess whether the medical practitioner has followed a course of action which is not supported by any reasonable body of medical opinion. The Claimant in a medical negligence claim is required to satisfy the Court, that if the medical practitioner’s actions were not a breach of their duty of care the Claimant would not have suffered the consequences of the medical negligence.
In such an instance, you could potentially receive treatment for cancer unnecessarily that could be disfiguring and extremely painful. Where there has been a misdiagnosis it also can be extremely stressful or even cause depression.
And sadly many cancer cases are completely misdiagnosed by GPs. A report a few years back by the British Journal of General Practice found that cancer cases missed by GPs in 71% of emergency GP referral or emergency hospital visits.
Click here to read more about GP negligence compensation claims
Don’t delay making your claim – or risk losing your right to compensation
And don’t forget that there is a strictly three year time limit for making your medical compensation claim. So if you think you may have grounds for a claim, don’t delay – get specialist legal advice today.
Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer
According to the leading cancer charity Cancer Research UK, there are over 46,000 Britons diagnosed with breast cancer every year, making it the most common type of cancer in the UK.
In some cases unfortunately, some patients could have had their cancer diagnosed sooner. If this has happened to a loved one or to you, what options are open to you? What things can you do, and is it worth claiming for medical negligence to stop the same thing happening to someone else?
What Constitutes Breast Cancer Negligence?
There are many reasons why a breast cancer case might end in a claim for medical negligence. Some of the most common are:
- Failure to diagnose breast cancer quickly enough
- Not diagnosing breast cancer from the patient’s symptoms and signs
- Missing breast cancer after the patient has had a scan
Breast Cancer – NICE Guidelines on Referral
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has set out guidelines stating when GPs should arrange to refer their patients urgently to a breast cancer specialist. These are:
- Patients with a separate, distinct, hard lump which is fixed, with or without dimpling, whatever their age
- People aged over 30 who have a distinct lump which is still there after the next menstrual period, or which appears after menopause
- Women aged under 30 with a growing lump, or who have other factors linked with cancer such as a strong family history
- Patients who have had breast cancer before and who have a new lump or other symptoms, whatever their age
- Patients who notice a change in their nipple shape
- Patients experiencing bloody discharge from one nipple
- Males aged 50 or over who have found a firm lump on one breast but who are not experiencing changes in their skin or the shape of their nipple.
- Any of these patients should be seen within a fortnight of being referred.
Medical Negligence and Delayed Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
An estimated 1 in 9 women [and a very small number of men] will be affected by breast cancer at some point during their life. The prognosis for many of them is good however, as breast cancer can often be successfully treated. The chances of making a full recovery are always greater if the cancer is caught early. Any delay in the initial diagnosis may lead to the cancer spreading which means it requires more radical treatment and may even prove fatal.
It’s for these reasons that it is so important that GPs pick up the symptoms and signs of breast cancer and make sure that patients are referred on to see a specialist. If the doctor delays, this could lead to a delay in diagnosis and any treatment which is needed. Any delay could dramatically change a patient’s chances of making a full recovery.
Skin Cancer Misdiagnosis
One of the most common types of cancer in the UK is skin cancer, and it most often occurs in white skin. Over the last 25 years skin cancer rates have rocketed in the UK, mainly down to the culture which equates a tan with fashion and health. Tanned skin is in fact a sign that the skin is damaged, and that the sun worshippers might be running the risk of developing skin cancer.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are two types of skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer is a type of skin cancer which develops slowly in the top layers of the skin, whereas melanoma spreads faster throughout the body. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common non-melanoma skin cancers.
Melanoma is a rarer form of skin cancer but is more serious. It starts in the skin as cancerous moles and might quickly spread to other parts of the body.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
The symptoms which are experienced will vary depending on the type of cancer.
A patch on the skin or a lump which does not heal in a few weeks is often the first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer. A lump which is cancerous is firm and red, and a patch is flat and scaly. See your GP if you have something wrong with your skin which doesn’t heal within four weeks, as this can be a sign of skin cancer.
With melanoma, the first sign of skin cancer is a new mole appearing, or changes to a mole. These changes can happen anywhere on the skin, but are most common on the back, limbs and face. Melanomas can be irregularly shaped and can be a variety of colours. Melanomas might be bigger than other moles and can bleed or itch.
How Doctors Diagnose Skin Cancer
After the family doctor has referred the patient to a specialist, they will have more tests to see if their symptoms indicate skin cancer. If skin cancer is confirmed, the patient might need an operation to remove some of their skin. If a melanoma skin cancer is diagnosed, they might need more tests to see if they have the type of cancer which is likely to spread.
Treating Skin Cancer
The doctors decide how to treat cancer based on each individual. When trying to decide on the most appropriate treatment the medical team have to take into account:
• Which type of cancer has been diagnosed
• How large the cancer is and whether it has spread
• The patient’s general health
The doctors will then work out a programme of treatment which might include surgical removal, chemotherapy or radiotherapy on the affected area of the skin.
The aims of the treatment will also vary depending on the cancer. If the cancer is diagnosed early the patient’s outlook will be good, and the treatment will aim to eradicate the cancer. If the cancer is in the later stages it might have spread into other parts of the body and the aim may be to improve the quality of life or controlling symptoms
Misdiagnosis Claims for Skin Cancer
There are many different situations which might result in a claim for medical negligence due to skin cancer.
• The initial diagnosis of cancer might be slow, and this could be caused by a GP not picking up the symptoms of skin cancer and failing to refer the patient on. In order for a successful claim, the patient has to show that this delay has led to them being in a worse situation, which is often the case when skin cancer is not treated. Delays in treating skin cancer are important as the patient’s prognosis is directly related to how much the cancer has spread and how easy it is to remove.
• After the patient has been given the diagnosis of skin cancer, it is essential that the patient has the treatment options clearly explained. In some cases the surgery may carry risks of leaving the patient with a serious disability or can cause a benign tumour to become malignant, and the doctor has to explain these risks properly.
• If surgery is recommended, any operation must be done carefully to avoid complications such as damage to nerves or infection.
• There are even cases where patients are told that they have skin cancer when they don’t. These people then have to go through the turmoil of having a cancer diagnosis, and then potentially have to go through tests and treatments which may even end in unnecessary surgery, when all along their condition was something minor. In these cases, the patient might be able to claim for both the medical negligence suffered, and the financial implications of having to take time off work for the unnecessary treatment.
Providing Evidence for your skin cancer misdiagnosis claim
When looking for evidence to support your negligence compensation claim, your solicitor will consider whether the medical professionals concerned have followed best practice – which for skin cancer should include the following;
• GPs should always make sure they pay attention to patients who raise extra matters during appointments. If the GP doesn’t have time to deal with the matter, he should make another appointment with the patient.
• The GP must also keep detailed and accurate notes about all medical complaints raised by a patient, and also about anything else which comes up during the consultation.
• Making a diagnosis quickly is very important when dealing with malignant melanoma. Whenever a GP looks at a lesion on the skin, he should make records of its size and site and describe the appearance.
• When talking to a patient about a suspected melanoma, the doctor must note details about changes in shape, size, colour or other symptoms.
Lung Cancer – Delayed Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis Claims
Lung cancer is still a big killer in the UK;
There are around 48,500 new lung cancer cases in the UK every year. That’s more than 130 every day (2016-2018).
Lung cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in the UK. It accounts for 13% of all new cancer cases. That means that the UK still sees approximately 48,500 new lung cancer cases each year. And that equates to over 130 every single day.
The good news is that since the early 1990s, lung cancer rates have actually dropped by 9% in the UK. And it’s expected that the decrease will continue for at least the next 15 years or so. However although rates in men had dipped by approximately one third, sadly in the same period new cancer cases amongst women has increased by the same percentage
Sadly some deaths from lung cancer may been avoidable with the right medical diagnosis and treatment.
There may be a case for medical negligence if a patient is slow to have their lung cancer diagnosed, has their treatment delayed or suffers from mistakes during an operation which not only make the cancer worse, but can lead to a much longer treatment period or may prove fatal.
Stages of Lung Cancer
All cancers are classified into four stages. These indicate how far the cancer has progressed and helps the cancer doctors to decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.
- At Stage 1 lung cancer is small and is localised in only one area of the lung.
- At Stages 2 and 3, the cancer has grown larger and might have spread into surrounding tissue. There may also be cancer cells present in the lymph nodes. This is known as locally advanced cancer.
- At Stage 4, the cancer has spread into another part of the body. This is metastatic or secondary cancer.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
In the early stages of the disease, there are not many noticeable symptoms of lung cancer. As the cancer progresses, some of the more common signs are:
- A persistent cough
- Pain when coughing or breathing
- A feeling of breathlessness
- Coughing up blood
- Repeated chest infections
- Loss of appetite
- Constant tiredness and fatigue
- Unexpected weight loss
- Diagnosing Lung Cancer
A lung cancer diagnosis starts first with a GP appointment. The doctor will examine the patient and carry out a test to measure lung function. If he is concerned, the patient will be sent for a blood test and should be referred to a specialist. The patient may then have one or more of the following:
- CT or PET/CT Scan – a full body x-ray scan
- Chest X-Ray
- Biopsy – removal of a small number of cells or tissue for testing
- Bronchoscopy – allows the doctor to see inside the lungs
Delays and Misdiagnosis of Lung Cancer
It’s the job of the medical profession to be able to diagnose and treat lung cancer. However their standard of care might be below standard and cause the patient more pain or injury. This kind of failure to deal with lung cancer properly can include:
- Delay in ordering a chest x-ray
- Delay in diagnosing lung cancer
- Delay in ordering a biopsy
- Misdiagnosing a chest infection
- Not ordering a CT scan
- Failure to treat the lung cancer
- Failure to carry out the right surgery
- Other failures in lung cancer treatment
If lung cancer is not diagnosed early and is left untreated, this gives the opportunity for the cancer to spread. If a patient has started to experience symptoms, the GP might misdiagnose the illness as bronchitis or something similar. This can delay getting a proper diagnosis and the correct treatment.
Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis – grounds for a medical negligence claim?
If you or a loved one have gone to a doctor with symptoms of lung cancer, have had the condition diagnosed wrongly and this has affected your outcome, then you may have grounds to make a claim for medical negligence and be entitled to compensation. Misdiagnosing the condition completely, or any delays in making the diagnosis can give the cancer time to get worse and spread into other area, and these delays could potentially be lethal.
Delays in getting treatment is a relatively common problem with lung cancer, lung cancer prognosis is often a lot poorer than other types of cancer. It is essential that lung cancer is dealt with quickly. If your treatment has been delayed because of clinical negligence, then you could have grounds for a claim for any harm which has been caused as a result.
Bone Cancer Misdiagnosis Compensation Claims
Cancer will affect almost half of us at some point in our life, and being diagnosed with cancer is a very scary and stressful time. Cancer care in the UK is world-leading, and we can expect that any type of cancer, including bone cancer is treated to the best of the doctors’ abilities. However this doesn’t mean that mistakes can be made, and in our opinion, cases of medical or clinical negligence happen far more often than they should.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer and think because of an error made in your medical care you have suffered, you could have a case for compensation for medical negligence.
Types of bone cancer
Bone cancers are split into two main groups. Primary bone cancer is when the cancer starts with a tumour growing inside one of your bones. Secondary bone cancer is where the cancer starts somewhere else, and spreads into your bones. There are four main types of bone cancer.
· Osteosarcoma. This is the most common types of bone cancer and mainly affects children and adolescents. It is most commonly found on the larger bones in the body.
· Ewing’s Sarcoma. This sort of bone cancer also mainly affects people under the age of 20, and is found on the shin, thigh or pelvis.
· Chondrosarcoma. These usually develop adults between the ages of 40 and 50 and develop on the ribs, shoulder blade, pelvis, thigh and upper arm bones.
· Spindle Cell Sarcoma. These develop in adults over the age of 40 and are similar in symptoms to osteosarcoma.
Symptoms of bone cancer
Symptoms which could lead to a suspicion of bone cancer can include pain in the bones which gets progressively worse and becomes more severe at night, swelling in joints, weight loss, high temperature and increased sweating. Bone cancer is very rare, but if all of these symptoms happen at the same time, go to see your doctor to be checked out. The causes of bone cancers are not fully understood, but people who have been exposed to radiation or who suffer from Paget’s disease are more likely to develop bone cancer.
What does bone cancer misdiagnosis mean?
Common with other sorts of cancers, there are many ways in which a doctor can misdiagnose bone cancer. In the past, the main way of treating bone cancer was to amputate the affected bone, although modern techniques involve replacing cancerous bones with metal implants. Chemotherapy is the main treatment used to shrink the tumour and as these treatments are radical, a wrong diagnosis can have far reaching effects.
A recent study found that on some occasions doctors were mistaking bone cancer for growing pains or a sporting injury because of the pains in the bones and swelling around joints. This is especially the case with osteosarcoma which occurs mostly in children and can be mistaken for many other more common injuries.
My Bone Cancer Misdiagnosis Can I Claim Compensation?
You might well be eligible to make a compensation claim for misdiagnosis of bone cancer if:
· You’ve been told you have bone cancer and it turns out that you have a completely benign condition instead.
· Your treatment has been delayed because a doctor failed to diagnose your bone cancer.
· Your symptoms of bone cancer were diagnosed as a completely different condition.
· There were delays in diagnosing you.
· You were not told about the possible outcomes or the risks involved with a procedure or course of treatment by a medical professional.
· You suffered complications because the proper testing methods were not used.
There are other circumstances which could count as misdiagnosis of bone cancer too, so speak to one of our experienced and specialist medical negligence solicitors about the specifics of your case