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Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims

If someone is suffering from cancer, cancerous cells can grow and reproduce uncontrollably in a specific part of the body, most commonly in the breast, bowel or prostate. Early diagnosis is often crucial because without treatment cancerous cells may break away from the primary cancer and travel to other parts of the body to form secondary cancer. This process (metastasis) can affect treatment and prognosis.

If you have suffered an NHS or private Hospital delay in diagnosis of cancer or a misdiagnosis of cancer you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Minton Morrill has a team of specialist and experienced Clinical Negligence solicitors who understand cancer misdiagnosis claims and offer legal advice and support during the claims process. Minton Morrill solicitors are compassionate and recognise that talking about such events takes time and understanding. Each person’s experience is personal to them and we tailor our approach to meet every client’s individual needs.

Do you have a claim for negligence involving cancer?

A delay in recognising, diagnosing and treating a patient with symptoms of certain types of cancer can lead to a clinical negligence claim. Sadly, more than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime and it is important that this is diagnosed and treated as soon as is reasonably possible.

Treatment is very specific to the individual and will depend on what type of cancer they have and what stage the disease has reached at the time of their diagnosis. There is no single treatment for cancer.

The earlier cancer is diagnosed then the better the patient’s chances are of survival. If the cancer has had the opportunity to spread to other parts of the body then it is more difficult to treat and the chances of curing the cancer are much lower.

Sometimes late diagnosis of cancer is due to patients not experiencing symptoms at an early stage whilst others may be put off going to see their GP because they do not think their symptoms are serious enough to warrant further investigation. There are also occasions, however, where delays in diagnosis are caused by doctors or other medical professionals overlooking symptoms of cancer and not carrying out appropriate investigations or failing to refer their patients for tests and/or treatment.

Time limits

In medical negligence claims the general rule is that a Claimant has 3 years to start a claim for compensation arising from the date of the negligent medical treatment. However, children are exempt from the 3 year limitation period until they reach the age of 18; the three year period will start to run from the date of their 18th birthday.

If a claim form is not formally issued at Court within the 3 year limitation period then a medical negligence case is usually time barred. Expiry of the limitation period is a defence which can be used by a hospital or private doctor to prevent a clinical negligence claim from succeeding. Click here to read our Time limits webpage.

How our solicitors can help with misdiagnosis of cancer claims

We guide our clients through the legal investigation and process. We help clients and their families secure misdiagnosis of cancer compensation as well as establishing the truth about what when wrong with their treatment. It is often very complex and challenging work which is why we strongly recommend that prospective clients speak to our specialist lawyers.

We are recognised as a top ranked medical negligence team by leading client guides, Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500.

Our senior lawyers (Simon Minton and Sahida Patel) are panel members of the gold standard Action Against Medical Accidents accreditation scheme, which is essential for solicitors who handle very complex medical negligence claims.

Among our highly experienced team, Simon Minton, Sahida Patel and Guy Pomphrey are all accredited specialists of the Clinical Negligence Panel for their independently recognised skills in this area.

We are an accredited practice of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), with several of our talented team holding memberships, including Sahida Patel who holds ‘senior litigator’ status.

Click here to read about the Clinical Negligence team’s Accreditations. 

How cancer misdiagnosis compensation claims work

Free initial consultation

We provide a free initial telephone consultation to discuss concerns you may have regarding your medical treatment which may have led to a misdiagnosis of cancer. There is no obligation for you to proceed with a legal investigation at this stage.

Our team of solicitors will seek to assess whether you have a medical negligence case to pursue and offer you guidance about what we think you should do next. This may include, for example, submitting a formal NHS complaint, obtaining medical records and/or discussing funding options so that a formal legal investigation can start. 

For further information from a specialist cancer misdiagnosis solicitor about a free, initial telephone consultation, call our team of experts on 0113 245 8549.

No Win, No Fee cancer misdiagnosis claims

We understand that the prospect of bringing a legal cancer misdiagnosis claim can be daunting and it is common to be concerned about the costs of pursuing compensation. We will discuss a range of flexible and accessible funding options with you, allowing you the opportunity to make a claim regardless of your financial circumstances. This could include a No Win, No Fee agreement (also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement), legal expenses insurance, trade union membership, or private funding arrangements.

We may be able to offer clients a No Win, No Fee agreement if the prospects of success of their case are above 51%. Under a No Win, No Fee agreement, our client’s legal fees only become payable if a cancer misdiagnosis compensation claim is successful and we seek to recover these costs from the negligent healthcare provider. If the case is ultimately unsuccessful our clients do not pay us anything. Click here for more information. 

Investigating your claim

Our team will usually obtain a copy of our client’s medical records and review these to see what has happened. Next, we will typically take a detailed witness statement about what has happened highlighting, in particular, any concerns about treatment.

Once we had obtained a full set of medical records and a detailed witness statement we would instruct suitable medical experts, for example, an independent GP expert and a Consultant Oncologist. The GP expert would likely report on breach of duty; for example, should the treating GP have referred a patient for a cancer scan earlier (the relevant test for the expert to apply is what a reasonable GP would have done in the circumstances) and the Oncology expert would likely report on what treatment and outcome the patient would have received had they been sent for investigation earlier.

It is important to ensure that our preliminary investigations are as thorough as possible because this will be the foundation for the legal claim going forwards.

Valuing your claim

The amount of cancer misdiagnosis compensation a client receives will depend on the individual circumstances of their case and the extent of their injuries (sadly, some of our clients die of cancer before their case concludes and their family take over the case). 

Compensation is grouped into two categories: 

  1. General damages for a patient’s avoidable pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
  2. Special damages for quantifiable losses as a result of negligent care; for example, loss of earnings (for any time taken off work now or in the future), medical treatment, therapy and/or counselling costs, travel costs to medical appointments, past and future care and equipment needs.

Out of Court settlements for misdiagnosis of cancer claims

Most medical negligence claims resolve or settle “out of court” without going to a Court trial before a judge. An experienced medical negligence solicitor will help with this and by building a strong case with supportive independent expert medical evidence our team of lawyers will try to work with the Defendant’s solicitors to resolve the case. 

Cancer misdiagnosis claims FAQ

What causes cancer to be misdiagnosed?

Cancer misdiagnosis may be caused by a delay in diagnosing a certain type of cancer (such as breast, bowel or prostate cancer) if a doctor does not recognise that the symptoms reported by a patient are signs of cancer that may warrant further investigation and treatment. A doctor may fail to make an appropriate referral for further cancer tests and investigations which could delay a definitive diagnosis and the implementation of appropriate treatment.

What can cancer be misdiagnosed as?

There are many conditions that can be mistaken for cancer, depending on the type of cancer the patient has. For example:

  • Breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as a non-cancerous cyst, a collection of liquid contained within tissue or fibrocystic breast disease.
  • Lung cancer is often misdiagnosed as a respiratory condition such as asthma, pneumonia or bronchitis and sometimes as pleurisy, an inflammation of the membrane that lines the chest cavity.
  • Colorectal cancer can be misdiagnosed as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids or piles.

Cancer misdiagnosis claims should be considered if a medical practitioner misdiagnoses a cancer patient with any of these conditions.

Can you get compensation for a cancer misdiagnosis?

Possibly, dependent on how strong your case is. If you believe you have a case, you should speak to a specialist solicitor who can give you some advice as to whether you have a strong cancer misdiagnosis compensation claim or not.

What help is available for patients and families following cancer misdiagnosis?

The Hospital where you received your diagnosis may be able to recommend a local support or counselling service and ensure you have access to the help you need. Your General Practitioner may be able to refer you to a suitable support service.

There are also a number of cancer charities nationwide. Examples include CLIC Sargent who help families deal with childhood cancer and Macmillan Cancer Support who provide practical, medical and financial support for families affected by cancer.

How long does a cancer misdiagnosis claim take?

The length of time it takes to fully investigate a cancer misdiagnosis claim is dependent on the individual circumstances of each case. Broadly, 12-15 months is a benchmark.

If an early admission of liability is subsequently made by the Defendant(s) it may be possible to resolve a medical negligence claim within around 18 months. However, if the Defendant(s) refuse to admit wrongdoing, cases can take considerably longer. 

Can you claim compensation for someone who died due to cancer misdiagnosis?

Yes. There is legislation in place which enables cancer misdiagnosis claims to be pursued on behalf of a patient who has died as a result of clinical negligence. Click here for information. 

The time limit for pursuing a claim on behalf of a deceased patient is three years from the date of their death. Click here for more information. 

Will compensation affect my benefits?

It is possible to protect your entitlement to means tested benefits following a cancer misdiagnosis compensation payment by using a Personal Injury Trust.

Speak to our specialist lawyers about this. 

Book a free, confidential consultation with our cancer misdiagnosis solicitors

For further information from a specialist medical negligence solicitor about starting a misdiagnosis of cancer compensation claim, give us a call on 0113 245 8549 or Ask Us a Question by filling in our online enquiry form.

Our Experience of Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims

Death from Delay In Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

D was aged 43 at the date of her death. She left a surviving partner and two children both under the age of 18. D attended her General Practitioner with a left breast lump who referred her to the local hospital. The hospital undertook a mammogram and D was...

Failure to Identify Recurring Cervical Cancer

J was diagnosed as suffering from cervical cancer following which she underwent a radical hysterectomy. She was regularly reviewed thereafter. Despite having problems with bleeding J’s gynaecologist was of the opinion that she was menopausal and...

Death Following Failure to Diagnose an Adrenal Tumour

T was aged 35 at the date of her death. She lived with her three children.  T had a long history of headaches but despite such headaches no formal diagnosis was made.  T also suffered with hypertension and palpations. When she was admitted to...