According to the leading cancer charity Cancer Research UK, there are over 46,000 Britons diagnosed with breast cancer every year, making it the most common type of cancer in the UK.
In some cases unfortunately, some patients could have had their cancer diagnosed sooner. If this has happened to a loved one or to you, what options are open to you? What things can you do, and is it worth claiming for medical negligence to stop the same thing happening to someone else?
What Constitutes Breast Cancer Negligence?
There are many reasons why a breast cancer case might end in a claim for medical negligence. Some of the most common are:
- Failure to diagnose breast cancer quickly enough
- Not diagnosing breast cancer from the patient’s symptoms and signs
- Missing breast cancer after the patient has had a scan
NICE Guidelines on Referral
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has set out guidelines stating when GPs should arrange to refer their patients urgently to a breast cancer specialist. These are:
- Patients with a separate, distinct, hard lump which is fixed, with or without dimpling, whatever their age
- People aged over 30 who have a distinct lump which is still there after the next menstrual period, or which appears after menopause
- Women aged under 30 with a growing lump, or who have other factors linked with cancer such as a strong family history
- Patients who have had breast cancer before and who have a new lump or other symptoms, whatever their age
- Patients who notice a change in their nipple shape
- Patients experiencing bloody discharge from one nipple
- Males aged 50 or over who have found a firm lump on one breast but who are not experiencing changes in their skin or the shape of their nipple.
Any of these patients should be seen within a fortnight of being referred.
Medical Negligence and Delayed Diagnosis
An estimated 1 in 9 women [and a very small number of men ] will be affected by breast cancer at some point during their life. The prognosis for many of them is good however, as breast cancer can often be successfully treated. The chances of making a full recovery are always greater if the cancer is caught early. Any delay in the initial diagnosis may lead to the cancer spreading which means it requires more radical treatment and may even prove fatal.
It’s for these reasons that it is so important that GPs pick up the symptoms and signs of breast cancer and make sure that patients are referred on to see a specialist. If the doctor delays, this could lead to a delay in diagnosis and any treatment which is needed. Any delay could dramatically change a patient’s chances of making a full recovery.
Could I be Entitled to Make a Claim?
If you think that the care provided to you by did not meet the standards you would expect from a medical professional, then you might be able to make a claim for medical negligence compensation. Misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose a serious condition such as breast cancer can have a serious effect on your recovery chances.
You may have grounds for a claim if your family doctor doesn’t pick up the symptoms of breast cancer, and as a consequence your treatment is delayed. If you had been examined properly, you may well have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the suffering may have been reduced.
Sometimes, if a doctor delays in diagnosing breast cancer this can mean that the cancer has the opportunity to spread. This sort of misdiagnosis of breast cancer can cause serious levels of suffering, and even has the potential to be fatal for the patient concerned.
If you, or a loved one, has experienced any delay in breast cancer diagnosis which has led to some sort of injury, get in touch with a specialist solicitor as soon as possible to find out whether you have fallen victim to medical negligence. If a medical professional has not identified symptoms of breast cancer or has failed to refer you for further tests then they might have given you a below standard level of care. If this is the case, then you will have grounds for putting forward a claim for medical negligence compensation.
Thinking of a Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim? Call our specialists today
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