Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Claims


According to the leading cancer charity, Cancer Research UK, cancer causes one in four of all deaths in the UK, and there are around 167,000 deaths from cancer every year. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is devastating not only for the person concerned but also for their family.


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Although there are over 200 types, each with its own survival rate statistics, as a rule, the earlier cancer is diagnosed and medical treatment begins, the better the chances are of survival.

Unfortunately, early cancer detection isn't achieved as often as it should be. A delayed diagnosis of cancer or a missed cancer diagnosis by doctors or other healthcare professionals can make cancer harder to treat when it is finally diagnosed. By that stage, the cancer may have grown and also spread to other parts of the body.

When things go wrong because a medical practitioner has missed signs that you have cancer or is responsible for a delay in diagnosing your cancer, you may be able to bring a delayed cancer diagnosis claim to recover compensation for medical negligence.

What do I need to prove to bring a successful medical negligence claim for delayed or misdiagnosed cancer?

  1. The medical professional owes you a duty of care to provide care at a level reasonably expected of a competent healthcare professional in that field. If your care and treatment fall below that standard, they have breached the duty of care they owe you.
  2. If the healthcare professional has breached their duty of care to you, you must have suffered some injury to make a successful medical negligence claim.

It isn't sufficient to simply prove that medical negligence has taken place. A successful cancer misdiagnosis claim will only succeed if it can also be proved that the negligence caused you harm.

So, if the avoidable delay or wrong diagnosis has caused you harm, such as a need for more invasive surgery, stronger medication (such as chemotherapy), or a has led to a more pessimistic prognosis, including a reduction in life expectancy, then a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis claim would have prospects of succeeding.

What are the more common reasons for errors in the diagnosis of cancer?

  1. Failure to identify symptoms of cancer
  2. Failure to refer a patient for appropriate tests as per the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guidelines
  3. Failing to organise a biopsy or other relevant tests
  4. Misinterpretation of test results, including X-rays and scans
  5. Delays in responding to test results
  6. Providing a patient with the wrong information about a test result
  7. Delays in offering appointments to cancer patients
  8. Providing the wrong treatment

What types of cancer are at risk of a late diagnosis?

The NICE Guidelines assist GPs in identifying the symptoms of different types of cancer and the relevant referral pathway in each case. Nevertheless, delays in cancer diagnosis still occur because GPs fail to recognise cancer symptoms or mistake the symptoms they find for those of less serious illnesses.

Some of the more common types of delayed cancer diagnosis claim we are asked to deal with include:

  • Bowel cancer claims
  • Breast cancer claims
  • Skin cancer claims
  • Cervical cancer claims
  • Testicular cancer claims
  • Lung cancer claims
  • Pancreatic cancer claims
  • Stomach cancer claims
  • Prostate cancer claims

What can I claim for in a delayed cancer diagnosis claim?

Making a claim for delayed cancer diagnosis will not correct the clinical negligence you have suffered. It won't turn the clock back either. However, a successful missed cancer diagnosis claim will provide you and your family with financial compensation. Some of the damages you can claim include:

  • Loss of earnings, including an amount to cover future loss of earnings
  • Costs of private medical treatment, including surgery
  • Care and rehabilitation cost
  • Travel expenses
  • Cost of Medication
  • Funds to buy specialist equipment
  • House or vehicle adaptations if needed
  • Any other financial losses resulting from your injuries.

Your claim will also include general damages: compensation for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity (the effect the additional medical problems caused by a delayed diagnosis have had on your quality of life).

If you choose Spencers Solicitors to handle your medical negligence claim, we will instruct and work with medical and other experts to provide the evidence required to prove your claim.

How do I start a delayed cancer diagnosis claim?

Contact Spencers Solicitors on 08000 93 00 94. Our specialist team of expert medical negligence lawyers will handle your missed cancer claim with the skill and care you would expect.

You'll also find them highly approachable and entirely empathetic to your situation.

When you get in touch, we'll make you an appointment with one of our medical negligence experts, with no strings attached, so that you can tell us what has happened, what you are going through and what your doctors have told you will happen moving forwards.

We'll listen to what you have to say and then tell you whether we think you have reasonable prospects of bringing a successful delayed diagnosis claim. If we believe the possibilities are good, then it will be entirely your choice as to whether you ask us to take on your claim or not.

If you decide you want us to act for you, we'll be delighted to do so.

Can I make a No Win No Fee delayed cancer diagnosis claim?

A Conditional Fee Arrangement, or CFA, is the most common means by which we fund medical negligence claims for our clients.

CFAs are more commonly known as No Win No Fee agreements. We can offer to fund delayed cancer claims by using a No in No Fee arrangement in most cases. The benefit of a No Win No Fee claim is that you will have no upfront costs to pay, and if your claim doesn't succeed, there will be nothing to pay.

If you win your case, the other party ( often the NHS, a GP or a private hospital) will pay you compensation and legal fees. In addition, there will be a success fee payable to us from your compensation. The success fee will be agreed at the outset with you and will not exceed 25% of the damages recovered for pain and suffering and other past losses.

Before you enter into a No Win No Fee agreement, we will fully and openly explain how the arrangement will work so that there are no hidden surprises.

We will also advise you about taking out an After the Event insurance policy, which will cover any outstanding expenses such as medical reports or court fees if your claim is unsuccessful.

Are there any time limits for bringing a delayed cancer compensation claim?

There is a three-year 'limitation period' to start a clinical negligence compensation claim in most cases. It runs from the date of the negligence, or the date of knowledge, i.e., when the individual affected becomes aware of the negligence.

Where delayed cancer claims involve a child, the 'limitation period' only starts to run from their 18th birthday.

We can also pursue a claim on behalf of the family of a loved one who has died due to a late diagnosis of cancer. The 'limitation period will start to run from the date the person dies.

Will making a delayed cancer diagnosis claim mean going to court?

Most late cancer diagnosis claims settle without going to court. Sometimes it becomes necessary for us to issue court proceedings for various reasons, such as if the lawyers for the relevant medical body deny liability, are being slow to deal with the claim or if limitation is approaching. Issuing court proceedings is a paperwork exercise, and you won't need to attend court.

Quite often, issuing proceedings leads to a negotiated settlement sooner than it would have otherwise been.

Occasionally, if we cannot negotiate a settlement with the lawyers for the responsible medical body, the case will go to court for a judge to decide. In the unlikely event of this happening, you will need to attend court. However, we will be there to represent you, and we will be at your side throughout.

The benefit of having the protection of a No Win No Fee agreement is you will go to court knowing that whether you win or lose your case, you will have no legal fees to pay.

How long will it take to settle my late cancer diagnosis compensation claim?

It isn't easy to provide you with an accurate time frame for how long your claim will take to settle and compensation paid out. It sounds like a cliché, but every claim is different and very much individual to you, the person making a claim.

Our team of highly experienced clinical negligence solicitors know how important it is to move delayed cancer diagnosis claims along as quickly as possible. Indeed, our lawyers will progress your claim in a timely fashion without compromising the quality of the work they do for you.

How quickly the claim settles often depends on how soon the lawyers for the NHS, or the private hospital, admit liability and whether we need to issue court proceedings in an attempt to expedite the claim.

Other factors in determining how quickly the claim settles relate to the severity of your injuries and the need to work with experts to provide us with the evidence required to prove your claim. For example, in some cases, a medical expert will need to prepare more than one report, with intervals of months or longer, between each report.

Missed diagnosis claims can take up to two years to conclude, often longer, if liability remains an issue.

You can be sure that Spencers Solicitors medical negligence team will carry out their work in progressing your claim as expeditiously and professionally as possible to make sure you recover the maximum possible medical negligence compensation quickly as is feasibly possible.

If you think you may have grounds for starting a delayed cancer diagnosis compensation claim caused by medical negligence, contact Spencers Solicitors for legal advice and guidance on 08000 93 00 94.

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