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The Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers

31 July 2019

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Cancer is never the diagnosis that anyone wants to hear, however if diagnosed at the earliest stage the disease can often be successfully treated. Sadly, some cancers can be misdiagnosed as their symptoms can be shared with other illnesses.

True Solicitors investigates the most commonly delayed and misdiagnosed cancers:

Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer accounted for over 16,000 deaths in the UK in 2016 and is the second most common cause of cancer death. Bowel cancer can often go undetected or misdiagnosed as another illness such as IBS or Crohns and Colitis.

If bowel cancer is detected at its earliest stage, over 90% of those diagnosed will survive the disease for five years or more, however if it is diagnosed at stage 4 less than 10% of people will survive for five years or more.

If bowel cancer has developed into a higher stage of cancer, that is more difficult to treat, or was misdiagnosed as something else, due to the negligence of a medical practitioner you may be able to make a claim, providing it can be proved that:

• Mistakes were made whilst interpreting test results.
• There was a failure to refer a patient to a specialist for further investigation.
• There was a failure to properly examine and diagnose the illness.

Breast Cancer

1 in 8 women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer and if diagnosed at the earliest stage over 90% of women will survive the disease for at least 5 years. Sadly, if breast cancer is detected at the most advanced stage, only 15% of women will survive cancer for at least 5 years. Therefore a delay or misdiagnosis can be detrimental to your life.

If the delay in diagnosis lead to the cancer progressing to a more advanced stage, or has spread to another part of the body then you could make a claim for medical negligence. A medical professional may have been negligent in the delayed or misdiagnosis of breast cancer if:

• They failed to carry out a proper examination.
• There was a failure to properly advise the patient to seek further medical attention if a lump changes or grows.
• The radiologist reviewing the mammogram failed to spot any anomalies.
• The pathologist reviewing the tissue samples failed to spot any signs of cancer.
• A breast lump that is actually benign is misdiagnosed as cancer, resulting in unnecessary surgery.

Melanoma

Skin cancer is the 5th most commonly diagnosed cancers to affect people in the UK. If melanoma is not detected at its earliest stage it can develop into a more aggressive form of skin cancer, or spread to other parts of the body. Treatment of single, localised melanoma is generally very treatable with patients experiencing good survival rates. The prognosis isn’t however so good for patients with melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body – otherwise known as metastatic melanoma. The survival rates for stage 4 metastatic melanoma drop to between 10-25% chance of surviving the disease within 5 years of diagnosis. It is therefore essential to treat melanoma at stage 1 to increase the chances of survival. Medical negligence may have occurred if the medical professional:

• Failed to properly interpret the results of a biopsy.
• Failed to refer the patient to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon on time.
• Failed to carry out a proper examination.
• Failed to fully remove the cancer during surgery.
• Didn’t properly test the patient to check that the cancer had been fully removed after the surgery.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is often misdiagnosed as the symptoms are the same as many other respiratory diseases such as asthma, a chest infection, gastric reflux disease or COPD. The symptoms of lung cancer include:

• Coughing up blood
• Persistent cough
• Wheezing
• Shortness of breath
• Weight loss
• Chest pain
• Bloody sputum

If there was a delay or misdiagnosis which lead to lung cancer progressing to a more advanced stage, or the cancer has spread to other parts of the body then you may be able to prove medical negligence. Examples of negligent treatment in diagnosing lung cancer include:

• Mistaking lung cancer for other illness such as TB, Bronchial Pneumonia, asthma or COPD.
• Misreading test results from pathology and radiology.
• Failure to follow up on abnormal test results.
• Failure or delay in referral of patient to a specialist for further investigations.
• Mistakes in staging or classification of lung cancer.
• Failure to properly examine or take down the patients’ medical history.

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have a claim for late or misdiagnosed cancer, contact TRUE Solicitors today to speak to a member of our medical negligence team. We offer an initial, free, no obligation assessment of your case.

Start my claim

 

Sources: 
https://www.breastcanceruk.org.uk/
https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-symptoms/why-is-early-diagnosis-important
https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/bowel-cancer#heading-One
https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/bowel-cancer#heading-Two

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