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Missed diagnosis of Cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease, but with modern drug therapies and surgical techniques, it can now be beaten.

Sadly, on occasion patients are denied their best chance of beating the disease by an avoidable delay in diagnosing it. The Clinical Negligence Team can advise patients and their families in those tragic circumstances.

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When can a missed diagnosis of cancer occur?

The first signs of cancer may be relatively early, depending on the type, and in that case the onus for making a diagnosis, (or at least of making a referral) is on your GP as they are usually a patient’s first port of call for medical advice.  If a GP does not identify that symptoms may relate to any type of cancer and therefore fails to refer to a specialist for further investigation, then a diagnosis can be missed or delayed.  Once a referral has been made, sadly missed diagnosis of cancer can still occur.  Key symptoms may not be given sufficient attention; in other cases scans may be misinterpreted.

When might I have a claim?

You may have a medical negligence claim if the diagnosis of cancer ought to have been made by a competent doctor earlier than it was, and if the delay in diagnosis has caused you harm.

The “harm” done may be that your prognosis is worse that it would have been with an earlier diagnosis, or that the treatment you now need is more serious or invasive than it would have been. Or simply that you have had to suffer pain over a longer period.

What sort of compensation might I receive?

Medical negligence compensation for claims relating to missed diagnosis of cancer is awarded in two categories: firstly for your pain and suffering, and loss of ability to do the things you used to be able to do, and secondly for any direct financial losses which you have suffered or will suffer in the future.

In cases of missed diagnosis of cancer, as well as an award of damages for pain and suffering, compensation could include a claim for care given by a relative, loss of earnings and in some cases the costs of any medical treatment rendered necessary by the missed diagnosis.

The extent of the compensation will vary widely between types of cancer and depending on individual outcomes.

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