Compensation for cancer misdiagnosis
If you or a loved one have suffered the consequences of a delayed or misdiagnosis of cancer, you could be entitled to make a medical negligence claim.
How Much Could You Claim?

Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims

Having a cancer diagnosis is a devastating blow which can have severe detrimental impacts on your emotional health, as well as your physical well-being. The prognosis for most cancers is more favourable today than ever before. However, the disease will cause great distress to the patient and their loved ones.

Prompt and correct diagnosis of cancer is vital in securing the most suitable treatment and the best prognosis. Cancers that are diagnosed late or mistaken for other conditions are not likely to be treated effectively. The longer this goes on, the greater the chance of cancer spreading or becoming more aggressive. That can have a significant impact on a person’s health and their likelihood of recovery.

Although health care, whether through the NHS or private practice, is generally of a first-rate standard, mistakes occasionally occur. In cancer misdiagnosis, these errors can be devastating. If you have been the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis or there was a failure to diagnose your condition promptly, you may be eligible to make a cancer misdiagnosis claim.

To find out if you are entitled to compensation, call 0800 032 3660 today or request a call back. A medical negligence solicitor will offer you a free case assessment and answer any questions you have about the claims process.

What is cancer?

There are over 200 different cells in the body, and in turn, there are more than 200 types of cancer. Unfortunately, the disease is one of the most diagnosed conditions in the UK, with around 393,000 new cases each year. It can affect virtually any tissue or organ in the body and can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Cancer is due to alterations in the body’s cells, where normal cells begin to multiply in an abnormal way. This growth results in lumps or tumours. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, the cancer can cause a host of problems for the patient, including:

  • Cancer can spread to other tissues in different areas of the body;
  • The lumps and tumours can put pressure on body structures and organs, leading to significant failures in functionality;
  • The spread of cancer can progress through blood or the lymphatic system.

Some cancers do not cause lumps and tumours. Cancers such as leukaemia develop in the blood or bone marrow and lead to abnormalities in blood cells.

What are the symptoms of cancer?

The symptoms of cancer can vary widely depending on its type, location and stage. Signs to watch out for include the following:

  • Significant and unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent fatigue that does not improve with rest
  • Ongoing pain that is not related to any injury or trauma
  • Skin changes, such as yellowing, darkening or redness;
  • Changes in the appearance of moles;
  • Persistent constipation, diarrhoea, blood in the stool or other bowel changes
  • Changes in bladder habits and urine colour
  • A persistent cough, hoarseness, or difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling or lumps in any part of the body
  • Vision and hearing problems

Specific symptoms can be typically linked to certain types of cancer. For example, lumps in the breasts or nipple changes may indicate breast cancer, while changes in the appearance of a mole can indicate skin cancer. If any of these symptoms persist, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider will typically follow a series of steps to diagnose your condition:

  • Take a detailed medical history, including any symptoms, risk factors, and family history of cancer;
  • Conduct a thorough physical exam to identify any abnormalities;
  • Order blood tests to assess your overall health and identify specific markers associated with certain types of tumours;
  • Use diagnostic imaging techniques such as CT scans or MRIs to visualise internal structures and detect abnormal changes;
  • Take a small sample of tissue or cells from the suspected tumour or affected area for a biopsy.

What treatments are available for cancer?

The treatment for cancer depends on several factors, including its type, stage, and the patient’s overall health, and may include:

  • Surgery – The tumour is often removed surgically if the cancer is localised to a particular area.
  • Chemotherapy – The doctors use certain drugs to kill or inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy – This type of treatment uses high doses of radiation to target and destroy cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy – Boosting the body’s immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy – This approach can be practical for certain types of cancers that use hormones to grow, such as breast cancer.
  • Targeted therapy – Involves the use of drugs that target specific molecules involved in cancer growth and prevent them from growing and spreading.
  • Stem cell transplant – Used in some cases to replace damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells that grow into blood cells.

Can I make a cancer misdiagnosis claim?

If you have suffered any consequences due to a delayed cancer diagnosis, you may be able to claim compensation. A medical negligence lawyer will be able to tell you whether you can make a claim during a free case assessment. They will verify whether:

  • A healthcare professional provided you with substandard care (breach of duty);
  • Their negligence led to an incorrect or delayed cancer diagnosis (causation);
  • You suffered personal and financial losses as a result (damages).

While proving a breach of duty can be relatively easy, proving causation is sometimes quite challenging and complex. Thus, having an experienced medical negligence team of solicitors on your side is essential. They will consult with medico-legal experts to prove you have a negligence case and secure the medical negligence compensation you deserve. They will also help you gather evidence to show all the damages you incurred as a result.

If you would like to arrange a free consultation and find out what your legal options are, please don’t hesitate to call 0800 032 3660 straight away or use our online claim form to request a call back.

How can liability for a cancer misdiagnosis be proven?

All medical practitioners throughout the UK are legally obliged to provide adequate care to all patients. The General Medical Council regulates all doctors in the UK and provides guidelines on how they should practice medicine and conduct themselves professionally. When it comes to diagnosing cancer, they are expected to:

  • Possess the necessary competence and skill to recognise the signs of cancer;
  • Stay informed about the latest diagnostic techniques and appropriate screening tools;
  • Obtain a detailed medical history and perform a comprehensive physical exam;
  • Make referrals for additional tests and investigations where necessary, which may include imaging studies, laboratory tests, or biopsies;
  • Follow established clinical guidelines and protocols for cancer diagnosis.

If your doctor has failed to provide the relevant level of care to you and has not diagnosed your cancer or diagnosed an incorrect illness, they may have breached their obligations to you. In these instances, pursuing a claim for clinical negligence compensation might be possible.

Can I make a claim against the NHS?

The NHS is a publicly funded healthcare system that provides care to all UK residents. It is one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive healthcare systems, and its services are usually excellent. However, mistakes can occur, which can lead to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of cancer. In such cases, patients may be able to make a compensation claim against the NHS trust where they were treated.

Many people are concerned about making a cancer negligence claim against the National Health Service. They worry that this might affect the staff and the funds allocated for patient care and negatively impact the healthcare system. However, that is not the case.

NHS Resolution handles all claims against the NHS. This is an independent body set up by the government to handle claims for medical negligence. It acts as an insurance provider for the NHS Trusts, which pay a certain premium yearly, similar to car or home insurance. If you make a successful cancer negligence claim, NHS Resolution will pay your compensation on behalf of the Trust involved. Your payout will not be taken out of the funds allocated for patient care and treatment.

What evidence will I need to support my claim for cancer misdiagnosis?

To make a successful clinical negligence claim, you will need relevant evidence to prove the following:

  • A breach of duty – Your healthcare provider has failed to provide the reasonable standard of care expected from a competent doctor with their level of training;
  • Causation – Your condition worsened, you received more aggressive medical treatment, or a loved one passed away due to the cancer misdiagnosis;
  • Damages – You need proof of all the subjective and financial losses you incurred as a result, such as pain, suffering, lost wages, and care costs.

Your solicitor may use any of the following to prove liability and ensure your claim is successful:

  • Your medical records will show your GP or doctor’s initial diagnosis, the tests they ordered and the treatments you received. These can provide an overview of your medical history and the diagnostic process;
  • Your solicitor will also arrange for you to obtain an independent medical report from a specialist. They will help establish whether there were errors or misinterpretations in the diagnosis and how the cancer misdiagnosis has affected you. Your solicitor will arrange this for you free of charge;
  • Any written communication, emails, or letters exchanged with healthcare providers regarding your diagnosis, treatment, or concerns;
  • Statements from friends or family members involved in your medical care;
  • Your account of how you have suffered due to the delayed cancer diagnosis, such as the pain you have felt and any events or opportunities you have missed out on due to your condition;
  • If available, photographs or written documentation of visible symptoms or changes in your health that you reported to your doctor;
  • You should also keep all documents related to your financial losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, travel costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of medical negligence.

Types of cancer misdiagnosis claims

Cancer is a complex disease and presents symptoms that might also indicate a host of other conditions. The complicated nature of cancer diagnosis means that occasionally, doctors and specialists make errors. However, all medical practitioners are legally and morally bound to exhaust all options when diagnosing a patient. If your condition was overlooked, you are likely to be eligible to make a misdiagnosed cancer claim.

Misdiagnosis can fall into one of two main areas, these are:

  • Failure to diagnose or recognise symptoms at all
  • Diagnosing the wrong illness

Within these two areas, there are a host of potential medical misdiagnosis claims. Some of the most common errors made by medical professionals that may result in cancer misdiagnosis compensation include:

  • Failure to request adequate tests or refer patients to necessary specialists;
  • Failure to provide appropriate care following abnormalities in previous tests, which might include the need for a biopsy for further investigations;
  • Failure to react appropriately to biopsy and other test results;
  • Failure to communicate results fully to a patient;
  • Failure to arrange necessary treatment following diagnosis;
  • Organising incorrect or inappropriate treatment based on your condition and medical history;
  • Prescribing the wrong medication or cancer treatment for your condition;
  • Administrative errors, such as losing or misplacing your file;
  • Falsely receiving the all-clear after treatment.

Your doctor may have also incorrectly diagnosed cancer when you were free of it. Besides the emotional pain and suffering caused by this news to you and your loved ones, you may have also received unnecessary and potentially harmful treatments like radiation or chemotherapy. If you were falsely diagnosed with cancer, you can also make a claim for compensation.

Which cancers are often misdiagnosed?

Cancer can be a complex condition that sometimes presents confusing symptoms similar to other illnesses. Thus, some forms of the disease are more likely to be misdiagnosed as other conditions or overlooked entirely. Some of the most common cancers that are at risk of misdiagnosis include:

  • Cervical and ovarian cancer are often confused with hormone and fertility-related conditions;
  • Bowel cancer often presents symptoms similar to digestive complaints, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis or diverticulitis;
  • Lung cancer can present symptoms that are similar to respiratory difficulties or viruses;
  • Bone cancer can be diagnosed as a joint or muscle illness or injury;
  • Breast cancer often presents as a lump in the breast, which can be misdiagnosed as fibroadenomas, benign masses, lipomas and other conditions;
  • Prostate cancer presents symptoms that can be mistaken for appendicitis or a hernia;
  • Melanoma can be misdiagnosed or confused with other skin conditions due to similarities in their appearance.

This list is in no way exhaustive, and there are many other ways in which misdiagnosis of cancer can occur. If you have suffered due to a delayed diagnosis of cancer, an experienced solicitor will be pleased to support you in accessing the personal injury compensation that you are legally entitled to.

Can I claim cancer misdiagnosis compensation on someone else’s behalf?

You may be able to claim on behalf of a loved one if they were misdiagnosed with cancer and cannot take legal action themselves. This is a common scenario when the injured party is a child under 18 or an adult who lacks mental capacity due to:

  • A brain injury or stroke
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • A mental health condition like schizophrenia
  • A neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s
  • An intellectual disability like Down syndrome

To claim cancer negligence compensation for your loved one, you must apply to the court to be named as their litigation friend. Your solicitor will help you prepare all the necessary paperwork. Before appointing you, the court will verify that:

  • You can conduct legal proceedings fairly and with competence
  • You have no conflict of interest with the victim
  • You agree to pay any fees requested by the court during the claims process

Becoming a litigation friend is a serious responsibility that will last until the claim is concluded, a child turns 18, or a disabled adult regains their mental capacity. You will have various duties while undertaking this role, such as:

  • Deal with correspondence and sign legal documents
  • Consult with solicitors and take legal advice
  • Ensure your loved one attends all their medical appointments
  • Make decisions about the case that are in the claimant’s best interests
  • Attend court hearings if necessary
  • Keep updated on the legal proceedings
  • Try to find what the claimant’s wishes are and keep them informed about the claims process
  • Consider any compensation offers you receive from the defendant

If your claim for cancer misdiagnosis is successful, the funds awarded will typically be kept in a court bank account. The money will be released to the claimant on their 18th birthday or when they regain mental capacity. Depending on the circumstances, your solicitor could also help you set up a personal injury trust to manage the funds and ensure they will be ignored when calculating the claimant’s entitlement to means-tested benefits.

Can I claim if I lost a loved one due to a misdiagnosis of cancer?

If you lost a loved one due to misdiagnosis of cancer, you may be able to make a claim as their dependant. Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, the following parties may qualify as dependants of the deceased:

  • Spouses and former spouses
  • Civil partners and former civil partners
  • Anyone living with them as a spouse or civil partner for at least two years
  • Children and other descendants
  • Parents and other ascendants
  • Anyone treated as a child or parent by the deceased
  • Siblings, aunts and uncles

If your loved one passed away and you are eligible to make a cancer misdiagnosis compensation claim, you could claim the following:

  • The financial benefits expected from your loved one, including salaries, bonuses, pensions and investments;
  • The services they can no longer provide, such as childcare, household chores and DIY projects;
  • Reasonable funeral expenses like wreaths, the headstone and transporting the body to the grave;
  • The financial losses incurred by your loved one due to the cancer misdiagnosis, such as lost wages, travel expenses, care costs and private treatments;
  • You can also claim a bereavement award of £15,120 for the grief and suffering caused to you by the wrongful death.

What is the time limit to start a medical negligence claim?

Under the Limitation Act 1980, you have three years to start a cancer misdiagnosis claim. The countdown begins from the date you received the correct diagnosis and you became aware that your cancer was misdiagnosed. After the limitation date, your case will be statute-barred and no longer valid.

Although you have three years, starting a personal injury claim as soon as possible is always better. That will give your solicitor plenty of time to document your cancer case and ensure you do not miss any deadlines. There are a few exceptions to the three-year limitation date:

  • For child injury claims, the three years begin on their 18th birthday. Afterwards, they will have until turning 21 to start a cancer compensation claim.
  • The time limit is suspended if the claimant cannot begin legal proceedings due to a condition that affects their mental capacity. A litigation friend could claim for them anytime.
  • If your loved one passed away due to a late diagnosis of cancer, you have three years from their death to make a claim.

How much compensation will I receive for misdiagnosed cancer?

The amount of compensation you may receive will significantly depend upon the level of suffering inflicted on you by your condition. Solicitors are highly skilled in achieving the highest levels of settlement and will negotiate compensation with a thorough overview of your losses. That means that they will endeavour to recover costs for the following:

  • Physical suffering
  • The emotional impact caused by medical negligence
  • Loss of consortium and companionship
  • Loss of amenities, such as the ability to pursue a hobby or attend social events
  • Any loss of earnings, both to date and likely future losses
  • Costs of treatment and prescriptions
  • The cost of travel to appointments and treatments
  • Costs of care and assistance, even if provided by a loved one
  • Medical aids and equipment necessary to accommodate your disability

These losses are grouped into two types of damages. General damages cover the subjective aspects caused by the misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis of cancer, such as pain and suffering. Special damages cover all the related financial losses and out-of-pocket expenses.

The solicitors we work in partnership with offer clients a free case assessment service. That provides the ideal opportunity to discuss your case, answer any questions you might have and offer an experienced estimate of the likely amount of compensation you may be entitled to.

How long will my cancer compensation claim take?

There is no simple answer for how long a cancer misdiagnosis claim may take to settle. Each case is different and will depend on various factors, such as:

  • The type and severity of the harm you suffered because your doctor failed to diagnose cancer;
  • The expected recovery time and long-term effects of the cancer misdiagnosis;
  • How long it will take to gather all the necessary evidence to support your case;
  • The estimated value of your claim will also play a role in how fast you can settle;
  • Whether the defendant admits or denies liability for the harm you suffered;
  • Whether your case goes to court or you settle without a trial.

Medical negligence claims are typically more complex than most other types of personal injury claims. While a claim for a workplace accident or road traffic collision will typically take around 4 to 9 months to conclude, claims for clinical negligence can take much longer. According to statistics from NHS Resolution, it typically takes 1.3 years to settle a claim under £25,000 and may take over 5 years to settle a claim worth more than £1 million.

How much will it cost to hire a specialist cancer misdiagnosis solicitor?

If you suffered losses as a result of cancer misdiagnosis, a specialist medical negligence solicitor will help you make a claim on a no win no fee* basis. That means you do not have to pay them anything upfront or worry about financial risks.

If you win the claim, your solicitor will receive a success fee taken from your compensation award. This fee is capped at 25% of your award for general damages and past financial losses, and you will agree to it from the beginning. There are no hidden charges or unexpected payments. If you lose the case, you do not have to pay your solicitor at all.

Furthermore, they will ensure you have After the Event (ATE) insurance against litigation costs if the claim fails. The ATE will cover all the disbursements and expenses incurred, such as:

  • Court and counsel fees
  • Medical reports
  • Expert witness fees
  • Paralegal and other staff time
  • Travel expenses like fuel and parking
  • Barrister fees if the case goes to court
  • The defendant’s solicitors and other costs

To find out if you or a loved one has a valid cancer misdiagnosis claim, enter your details into our contact form or call free on 0800 032 3660. An experienced and friendly legal adviser will call you back as soon as possible to discuss your case.

* Personal injury claims are offered on a no win, no fee basis. If your claim is successful, your solicitor will receive up to 25% of your compensation as their success fee. Any additional costs, such as legal protection insurance, will be clearly explained to you by your solicitor before you decide to proceed with your claim. Termination fees may apply if you fail to cooperate with your solicitor. This includes deliberately misleading your solicitor, failing to attend scheduled medical or expert examinations, or not appearing at a required court hearing.