Failure to diagnose cancer

Taylor&Emmet deal with clinical negligence cases in relation to many types of cancer, where your healthcare provider has been negligent.

If you or a family member has suffered following a misdiagnosis of cancer, then you may be able to make a clinical negligence claim, if the misdiagnosis was negligent.

Sometimes, your doctor can misinterpret symptoms or test results. Sometimes, a doctor does not recognise worrying symptoms and there is a delay in referring to a specialist. Sometimes, cancer is diagnosed when a patient does not in fact suffer from cancer and potentially damaging treatments such as chemotherapy can be put in place.

Taylor&Emmet deal with clinical negligence cases in relation to many types of cancer, where your healthcare provider has been negligent.

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK.  Eight out of ten people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer are 60 or over. There are tests which can be carried out which help to identify bowel or colon cancer including colonoscopy, proctoscopy, virtual colonoscopy (CT), barium enema, biopsy, sigmoidoscopy and blood tests. If you have suffered from rectal bleeding, then the appropriate examination and testing should take place which could assist with diagnosing cancer as early as possible.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer

Negligence cases are often concerned with the delayed diagnosis of breast cancer.  The outcome, following a diagnosis of breast cancer, depends on how early or advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed.

Sometimes, delayed diagnosis can occur as a result of a lack of examination, a lack of proper analysis of biopsy and test results and sometimes lumps in the breast are diagnosed as being benign when they are in fact not.

Sometimes, with earlier diagnosis, a lumpectomy could be utilised rather than a full mastectomy.  Sometimes, due to a delay in diagnosis, chemotherapy could have been avoided.  Early diagnosis is vital in ensuring effective treatment for breast cancer.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer

Lung cancer causes a great many deaths. Smoking is closely linked with lung cancer but it can also arise from inhaling other toxic substances such as asbestos. Achieving a diagnosis as soon as possible is vital to effective treatment and palliative care.

Sometimes, tests, including x-rays and biopsies, are delayed as a result of negligence by a health professional.  This can lead to a delay in treatment. It can mean that some patients are unable to obtain palliative care to assist with pain relief and personal care. It can also lead to premature death.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer

Sadly, some women can receive inaccurate results from smear tests. Sometimes, the specimen which is obtained, is not obtained properly to allow correct interpretation. Sometimes, a specimen is not entered correctly or is reported incorrectly in laboratory analysis.

Cervical cancer should now largely be preventable through effective screening. Pre-cancerous cell changes do not normally have symptoms which is why it is so important to have regular smear tests.

One of the symptoms of cervical cancer is bleeding from the vagina. Other methods of diagnosing cervical cancer include colposcopy and cone biopsy.



Lymph nodes in all parts of the body can be affected by lymphoma. Lymphoma is a disease of the lymphatic system but it can also occur to other areas of the body.

Clinical negligence specialists are concerned by the late diagnosis or the late provision of treatment in cases involving lymphoma.

Sometimes, there is difficulty in diagnosing a specific strand of lymphoma. A delay of sufficient duration can lead to additional suffering and/or premature death.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer

In common with other types of cancer cases, late diagnosis or a failure to diagnose prostate cancer can lead to significant problems for a patient who is unfortunate to have this disease.

Correct testing at an early stage can help with identifying the disease. A failure to diagnose the disease can lead to patients having a greater mortality risk.



Sometimes, people suffering with leukaemia can suffer a delayed diagnosis or a missed diagnosis. Late diagnosis can result in premature death and a lack of palliative care. Late diagnosis can result in additional suffering for a patient.

Please contact one of our team of friendly and professional solicitors to discuss any potential case involving the late diagnosis of cancer. We can assist by pursuing a Complaint. We can also assist by bringing legal action if necessary.

We can look to obtain compensation. Compensation can include the following:-

  • 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.

We will be happy to discuss with you in total confidence any enquiries that you have regarding a cancer case.  Please submit an enquiry. We will be happy to call you back to discuss, without obligation, how we can help.

Case studies

Death following delayed referral for suspected bowel cancer

We were instructed by the daughter of a lady who sadly died at the age of 71. Altered bowel habit for more than 6 weeks in a lady over 60 should have warranted a referral under NICE guidelines by the GP/practice nurse. Unfortunately, a delay in referral for investigations and treatment meant that the cancer became more invasive and our experts concluded that this delay ultimately caused her death the following year. Had she been referred earlier, prompt surgery would have saved her life.

A case was pursued against a GP and nurse practitioner based in Leeds. Liability was initially denied although breach of duty was later admitted on behalf of the nurse practitioner. It was denied that the delay had caused the death, but the matter was subsequently settled for £45,000.

Delayed diagnosis

A lady in her 40s pursued a case against Royal United Hosital Bath NHS Trust alleging that her cervical smear test had wrongly been reported as normal. She sustained significant damage from radiotherapy because of the delay in diagnosis. She was left with significant pain and faecal incontinence which hugely affected her social and work life. The Defendant admitted liability and if the smear test had been correctly interpreted she could have had swift non-invasive treatment and would have avoided the life changing side effects. The case settled before a Trial in the sum of £650,000.

Misdiagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Our client regularly attended her General Practitioner over a period of three years complaining of a lesion to her temple which was abnormal, itchy and increasing in size. The lesion was treated as a seborrhoeic wart.

It was at the end of the two years when the Claimant was finally referred to a Consultant Dermatologist where a basal cell carcinoma was confirmed. This was excised but unfortunately our client was left which a much larger scar on her face than she would have had in the event that diagnosis of a carcinoma had been made sooner. The case settled for the sum of £5,000.00.

Delayed diagnosis of rectal cancer

We were instructed by the sister of a gentleman who died after delayed diagnosis of rectal cancer. Despite a change in bowel habit and passing blood, no examination or referral was made by the Lincolnshire based GP and a diagnosis of piles was made. Sadly the cancer became more advanced and, by the time he was diagnosed, the tumour was inoperable. Had he been referred initially, his life would have been saved. Liability was conceded and the case settled for £130,000.

Here to Help

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We have legal experts near you

If you are interested in understanding how Taylor&Emmet can help you with your medical negligence claim then please contact:


James Drydale

James Drydale

Head of Clinical Negligence

Call 0114 218 4058

Email James

Office: Sheffield

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