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Failure To Diagnose Or Misdiagnosis Of Cancer

If you’ve suffered as a result of misdiagnosis of, or failure to diagnose, cancer, and someone has been negligent, you may be able to make a medical negligence compensation claim.

Last updated on January 18th, 2024 at 02:05 pm

Latest posts by Nikki Yavari (see all)

    Cancer is one of the most common serious illnesses in the UK with statistics showing that one in three of us will develop some form of it during our lifetime.

    It’s widely recognised that early diagnosis of many types of cancer can lead to much more effective treatment and lower mortality rates.  Doctors have to be aware of the possibility of cancer, taking into account your family history and environmental and lifestyle factors, when they examine you in relation to a wide variety of symptoms.

    Medical negligence claims involving cancer often involve one of the following factors:

    Failure to diagnose

    This can be due to your doctor either missing or misinterpreting your symptoms or misinterpreting test results.

    Delay in diagnosis

    This can be caused by delayed referrals to specialists, delays in carrying out a biopsy or failure to act quickly enough in reaction to test results, as well as many other factors.

    Read how Graysons won £300,000 for a lady whose cancer diagnosis was delayed.


    Some patients are diagnosed as having cancer when they do not. This can lead to having to endure difficult and painful treatments, such as chemotherapy, unnecessarily.

    What type of medical negligence cancer claims do Graysons deal with?

    We deal with medical negligence compensation claims for any type of cancer where your health care provider has been negligent. Some of the more common types of cancer are:

    Breast cancer

    Breast cancer is one type of cancer that responds well to early treatment. This is why early diagnosis is such an important factor in ensuring effective treatment.

    Negligence claims often centre on delayed diagnosis as a result of failing to carry out examinations, failure in analysis of biopsy and test results, and lumps in the breast being misdiagnosed as being benign. This can lead to treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, being less effective or ineffective altogether and the patient having to undergo a mastectomy.

    In other cases the opposite may be true and the patient could be diagnosed with breast cancer incorrectly. This can lead to unnecessary treatments such as chemotherapy or unnecessary mastectomy surgery, which in turn can cause psychological problems.

    Colon & bowel cancer

    Claims usually arise as a result of a failure to diagnose colon or bowel cancer. Various tests can be carried out that can help to identify bowel or colon cancer including:

    – Colonoscopy

    – Sigmoidoscopy

    – Barium enemas

    – Biopsy

    – Blood tests.

    Sometimes, when rectal bleeding has not been examined correctly so that early diagnosis can be made, patients can suffer further as a result.

    Cervical cancer

    This is a form of cancer that is now regarded by the medical profession as largely preventable through effective screening. Routine pelvic examinations and pap smears can help to identify pre-cancerous changes which, if found, should lead to early treatment.

    Unfortunately some women receive inaccurate results from smear tests. This can be due to problems with specimen collection or by incorrect interpretation or reporting by the laboratories analysing the tests.

    The health care provider can also be negligent if they delay in following up abnormal test results.

    Prostate cancer

    Claims relating to prostate cancer often involve late diagnosis or failure to diagnose. It’s now possible to identify patients with prostate cancer at a very early stage using new diagnostic techniques.

    Prostate cancer shares many symptoms with other medical problems so it’s essential that the correct tests are carried out early to identify the disease. Failure to diagnose the disease can lead to patients having a much lower chance of receiving effective treatment.

    Lung cancer

    Lung cancer is one of the most fatal types of cancer. It’s commonly associated with smoking but can also be a result of inhaling other toxic substances such as asbestos.

    Early diagnosis is vital to effective treatment. Lung cancer often goes undiagnosed as it shares similar symptoms to another disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or smokers’ lung.

    Tests such as biopsies and x-rays can be useful in diagnosing lung cancer, however these are often delayed or not carried out at all due to negligence on the part of the doctor. This can result in the patient not being given effective and timely treatment and suffering further, or in some cases premature death is a result.

    Please read our pages on asbestos related illnesses.


    Leukaemia is cancer of the blood or bone marrow. It has various symptoms and can be detected by blood tests and bone marrow biopsy.

    Negligence claims for leukaemia sufferers will often be due to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. It’s possible for tests to give false positive results and for a patient to be given unnecessary treatment. Late diagnosis can result in additional suffering for the patient and may lead to a worsening of symptoms and even death.


    Lymphoma is the term used to describe a group of cancers of the lymphatic system.

    Lymphoma can affect lymph nodes in all parts of the body. Although lymphoma is a disease of the lymphatic system, it can also happen in other areas of the body, for example, lymphoma can affect the stomach, the skin, or the liver.

    Late diagnosis or treatment is often the cause of medical negligence cases for lymphoma sufferers. In some types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases a ‘wait and watch’ approach is used. This is due to the difficulty in diagnosing the specific strand of lymphoma, many of which require different treatments. The potential problem with this approach is that the treatment may be delayed too long, leading to additional suffering by the patient.

    What can I claim?

    The value of your claim will depend on a number of factors including:

    • The nature of the illness
    • Whether you recover fully from the illness or if it has a long term effect on your health and wellbeing
    • The amount of any losses you incur as a result of the injury

    You can claim compensation for the following things if they are a result of your injury:

    • Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
    • Loss of earnings
    • Medical and nursing care costs
    • Special equipment needed to carry out daily activities and any costs involved in adapting your home
    • Other expenses incurred as a result of your injury, for example, travel expenses incurred whilst receiving medical treatment.

    Read how Graysons won compensation for a client following a delay in diagnosing her cancer.

    Contact us to speak to one of our specialist lawyers in total confidence and they will discuss the details of your claim.

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