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Diagnosing cancer- A missed opportunity

The availability of treatment, quality of care and the effectiveness of public health initiatives are among the factors likely to affect cancer survival rates. However late or missed diagnosis has been suggested as a major contributor to the UK’s ranking. Cancers are diagnosed at a more advanced stage in the UK compared with other European countries. The delays in diagnosing cancer are responsible for the lower UK figures.

The key factor in successful treatment of cancer and increasing survival rates is early diagnosis. Early detection and treatment is therefore essential. Delayed diagnosis can also have a negative effect on the quality of life, with the use of more toxic treatments when cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage. It can also cause increase in your psychological distress.


Diagnosis of cancer is devastating for the individual and their family at any time, but this news can be even more distressing if there has been a delay in discovering their illness. Signs of cancer, symptoms and so called ‘red flags’ are still being missed by GP’s. These missed opportunities may have caused avoidable injury.


I act for many clients who, with earlier diagnosis, could have been cancer free – a concept which is very difficult for my clients and their loved ones to accept. For some of my clients, late diagnosis of cancer can mean that their prospects of recovery are worsened or the treatment they need is more extensive than if their condition had been recognised sooner.


Clinical negligence claims involving cancer are often due to:

  • Failure to diagnose - a failure to diagnose can mean that the cancer is allowed to grow untreated. This could be because your doctor either missed something or your test results were misinterpreted. The opportunity to treat the cancer in this situation can be lost completely.
  • Delay in diagnosis – delays can be caused by a GP failing to refer a patient to hospital for further investigation. Delays can be caused by delayed referrals to specialists, delays in carrying out a biopsy or failure to act quickly enough after test results.

Delays in diagnosis do occur and our solicitors have advised in relation to many cancer compensation claims including delays in diagnosing: 

  • Skin Cancer
  • Mouth and Throat Cancer
  • Bowel Cancer 
  • Lung Cancer 
  • Breast Cancer 
  • Ovarian Cancer 
  • Prostate Cancer 


These claims can be complex therefore it is important that you are represented by a specialist clinical negligence lawyer. We have helped many clients who suffered unnecessarily because of a delayed cancer diagnosis. We can help you claim compensation for your reduced chances of survival, additional pain and suffering and financial loss, such as loss of earnings. We can also ensure that your long term care needs are met.


If you think you have a claim for a delay in diagnosing cancer, or know someone who may be able to make a claim, please contact our Clinical Negligence Team on 0808 175 8105 to speak to a solicitor now.

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