Cancer negligence claims solicitors

With appropriate medical care, many cancers can now be effectively treated and survival rates can be excellent. Even in cases where there is no prospect of a cure, modern treatment has progressed so that for many, symptoms can be held at bay, and quality of life improved. Of course, this all depends on early detection and national screening programmes are in place for some cancers (breast, cervical and bowel) to help with this.

For the most part, the standard of cancer care in the UK is excellent. However for a small minority of patients, things can go badly wrong, perhaps because their GP failed to refer them to a specialist, crucial investigations were not undertaken, or test results were misreported resulting in misdiagnosis.

At Boyes Turner we are highly experienced in pursuing cancer negligence claims, having acted in a large number of cases, for both adults and children.

Judgment for young mother diagnosed with avoidable cervical cancer

Judgment has been entered for a young mother, Emma* who developed  cervical cancer...

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Hospital admission of liability for a young woman who developed cervical cancer

Boyes Turner’s specialist medical negligence lawyers have secured an admission of liability...

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£575,000 compensation settlement following a delay in diagnosis of cervical cancer

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence solicitors have settled a compensation claim for their...

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£800,000 compensation settlement recovered following a delay in diagnosis of cervical cancer

Our client, a young woman, developed symptoms, including vaginal bleeding. She attended her GP...

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Types of cancer negligence claims

No two cancer claims are ever the same. We have acted in cancer negligence claims against both GPs and hospitals, and in some cases there are multiple defendants, perhaps because the GP has delayed referral, and then the hospital has failed to undertake crucial tests or has misreported the results.

There are over 200 different types of cancer, some more common than others and we have experience in acting for clients with numerous different forms of the disease, including breast cancerbowel cancercervical cancerspinal cancer, prostate cancer and sarcomas.

Sarcomas are a rare form of cancer that develops in the bones or soft tissues of the body, and commonly affect teenage children and young adults.  It often occurs in the long bones of the body, the ribs, pelvis and spinal column.

Regardless of the type of cancer involved, if you have concerns about how your diagnosis or treatment has been managed, then we can offer you advice as to whether or not there might be a claim to pursue.

GP referral

GPs should be alert to signs and symptoms of possible cancer. There are many different types of cancer, each of which may be associated with a wide range of symptoms which can make it difficult for a GP to know when they should refer their patient to a hospital specialist. To help, the National Institute of Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a series of referral guidelines, categorised according to the type of suspected cancer. The guidelines help doctors work out which patients they should refer and how quickly.

In cancer negligence cases it is often at this stage that things can go wrong. If a referral is not made when it should be, there may be a delay in diagnosis, during which time the cancer progresses, symptoms may worsen, and the long term prognosis may change. A GP may well be considered negligent if they have failed to follow a clear referral guideline, or even if they have followed a guideline but have failed to take into account other factors which ought to have resulted in a referral.

Hospital investigations

Once a referral has been made, the hospital specialist, usually an Oncologist, will decide what investigations are required to make the diagnosis. They too are guided by NICE guidelines. For instance, in cases of suspected breast cancer, a triple test is usually used which involves clinical examination and assessment, imaging (i.e. mammogram / ultrasound) and tissue examination following a biopsy. In cases of suspected bowel cancer, a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy are likely to be required. It is important that the correct investigations are selected and the results reported accurately.

Diagnosis of cancer

Once the test results are available, the hospital specialist will be able to confirm whether or not the patient has cancer. If they do, the results will also allow the doctor to confirm what stage the disease is at.

Unfortunately cancer diagnosis mistakes are sometimes made, particularly when test results are misreported, for example when scan results are not reviewed thoroughly enough, or biopsy results are not recorded properly. This may result in patients being told that they do not have cancer, when in fact they do. Alternatively, it can result in patients receiving treatment for a cancer which they do not have.

Cancer treatment

Staging is important because it helps to determine what type of cancer treatment is required. If the staging is incorrect, it can lead to the wrong treatment.

If the cancer is just in one organ it may be possible to provide a local treatment, such as radiotherapy which targets a certain place in the body, or indeed surgery. However, if the cancer has spread further, a whole body treatment may be needed such as chemotherapy. Sometimes more than one type of treatment is used, for instance, chemotherapy following surgery. Treatments are developing all the time with new techniques being trialled (such as HIFU for prostate and other cancers).

On occasions, mistakes are made in the treatment of cancer. Cancer treatments are by their nature, very powerful, and if used incorrectly, can cause injury. For example we have acted for clients who have suffered extravasation injuries from chemotherapy treatment procedures 

Cancer negligence FAQs

  • What is cancer?

    Cells in the body usually grow and reproduce in a predictable and controlled way. However, this orderly system can sometimes go wrong. This may result in cell death, but can also result in uncontrolled growth resulting in tumours . However, not all cancers cause solid tumours, for instance in leukaemia, abnormal blood cells are created by the bone marrow and then circulate in the blood stream.

  • How many different types of cancer are there?

    There are over 200 different types of cancer. Cancer can develop in any type of cell of the body and it is important for doctors to work out which type of cell is involved. Types of cancer include:

    Some types of cancer are also named after the size and shape of the cells such as giant cell carcinoma, spindle cell carcinoma and small cell carcinoma.

  • What is the difference between a malignant and benign tumour?

    Benign tumours are not cancerous, therefore they do not spread to other parts of the body. They are often slower growing than malignant tumours and their cells are more similar to normal cells. A benign tumour often grows within a capsule or within normal cells. Malignant tumours do contain cancer cells, can spread to other parts of the body and often grow faster.

  • What is Metastatic cancer?

    Metastatic cancer means that cancer cells from the primary cancer have spread to another part of the body. This happens when cancer cells break away from the main tumour and are carried in the body to another site.

  • What are the stages of cancer?

    Stage 1 usually means that the cancer is small and has not spread beyond the organ it developed in, whereas by stage 4, the cancer will have spread to another organ in the body. This is often referred to as secondary cancer or metastatic cancer.

    There are also other staging systems including the TNM staging system.

  • What symptoms does cancer cause?

    Symptoms vary from cancer to cancer and person to person. Patients tend to become symptomatic when a tumour has grown sufficiently to press on other organs or nerves. Symptoms may also develop if the tumour is releasing chemicals or hormones into the blood stream.

  • How fast do tumours grow? When did the cancer begin?

    Different cancers grow at different rates, depending on the precise type of cancer. Tumour growth rates can be quite important when investigating a claim for compensation and fortunately medical experts are able to estimate how big the tumour would have been at the point in time when it should have been diagnosed.

  • Can I bring a claim for cancer negligence?

    To be successful with a cancer claim we need to establish:

    1. There was negligent treatment and;
    2. The negligence made your condition worse or resulted in you suffering an injury

    We can also potentially pursue a claim when someone has died as a result of negligent cancer care.

    The law provides that certain individuals can bring a claim on behalf of the estate of the person who has died (for the deceased’s avoidable pain and suffering prior to their death and for other miscellaneous expenses incurred by the estate and relating to the negligence).

    It may also be possible for an individual to bring a claim in their own right if they were dependant on the deceased, either financially or in terms of the services they provided (for example, the care a parent provides to their child or the assistance that a spouse usually provides with tasks such as DIY and gardening).

I am overwhelmed by the outcome in terms of the monetary value and know I should consider it as a near a 'sorry' as I am likely to get from the hospital. It will be nice to start the process of closure on the whole issue now and look towards the future for us as a family. 

Mrs T, Surrey 

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