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Cancer is a very common disease in the UK where it is the second-leading cause of death. It is expected that 50% of all men as well as around 30% of all women will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. This being the case, it is advisable that members of the public are vigilant and self-examine and have themselves tested for cancer in the event of any suspicion.

The term cancer is a generic term that may be applied to a host of illnesses. When a person is said to suffer from cancer, it means that there are cells in the body of that person which are exhibiting uncontrollable growth - that is the common denominator among all the different forms of cancer. Cancer cells are abnormal because instead of dying at a normal rate like regular body cells, they keep growing and adding to the number of abnormal cells. Failure to properly deal with cancer by a healthcare provide may cause injury to the patient resulting in a compensation claim by a medical negligence solicitor.

When cancer is present in a human body, a tumour is generally produced. There are some forms of cancer which do not create a tumour which may travel through the blood to other parts of the body where abnormal growth of cells is induced to form a tumour. The process of spreading to other body parts is called metastasis.

Cancer can be either benign or malignant. Benign means that the cancer cells are not expected to spread to other parts of the body. Malignant cancer cells do spread and often quite quickly if left unchecked. This is why early detection is very important in the treatment of cancer. One of the main medical negligence issues investigated by a cancer solicitor usually relates to the efficiency and speed of diagnosis.

Tens of thousands of people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer every year but for every one of those people fortunate enough to receive early diagnosis and treatment giving them the chance of recovery there are many more who are not so fortunate and suffer because of misdiagnosis or misinterpreted test results. Cancer misdiagnosis is extremely common and those whose illness worsens as a result of medical negligence have the right to claim compensation for personal injury including damages for loss of the chance of recovery.

Cancer Medical Negligence - Misdiagnosis

Medical care has now progressed to the point that majority of cancers are treatable when diagnosed early at onset. Patients who die may have been misdiagnosed, delayed consulting their doctor or were afflicted with particularly aggressive types of cancer. The paramount rule in treating cancer is early detection - the sooner the cancer has been detected and diagnosed, the sooner treatment can be started.

Doctors may misdiagnose or delay diagnosis of cancer for various reasons. The doctor could be overworked resulting in a less than satisfactory service to the patient. Records could have been lost or the patient's complaints ignored, inappropriate treatment administered, errors in conducting scans or x-rays, failure to interpret test results, inadequate monitoring of a patient who is known for a family history of cancer, inadequate examination of the patient, loss of interest in thoroughly checking symptoms, inexperience in detecting symptoms of cancer or failure to send the patient to a specialist. Misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosis of cancer may give grounds for a medical negligence solicitor to take action for compensation.

There is no unavoidable reason why cancer should be misdiagnosed. The stakes are so high that there is simply no excuse for medical negligence. Human error does play a major part in medical negligence however lost records, misread tests, ignored complaints and failure to refer to a specialist are simply unacceptable excuses.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used to treat cancer and whilst many patients make a complete recovery, the toll taken on the body can be high. Early detection can reduce the severity of treatment and increase quality of life and survival rates. It is therefore essential that the cancer is picked up as soon as possible.

False Positive Diagnosis

Cancer may be diagnosed when in fact the patient is free of cancer and it is known as a false positive. In this case, the patient may be unnecessarily psychologically and emotionally distressed. The patient may also be financially and physically strained by being forced to go through unnecessary treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy which are in themselves a threat to life and health and are often uncomfortable or painful. Again this may give grounds for a medical negligence lawyer to take action for compensation.

One matter that often arises which frequently results in a cancer medical malpractice claim relates to the phenomena known as 'false positive diagnosis'. This occurs when a positive diagnosis of the condition is made due to technical error when in fact there is no disease present. In the initial stages the patient suffers psychologically in the mistaken belief that there may be a death sentence hanging over them and thereafter must endure unnecessary treatment that is often uncomfortable and distressing often with dangerous and damaging side effects that in themselves can be a threat to life and may shorten the victim's life expectancy. This scenario will almost always give grounds for making a claim for compensation based on negligence by the health care provider.

Cancer is a very serious illness and it makes sense to know how to detect symptoms of cancer and what to do when you find such symptoms. Cancer detection starts with screening a patient for possible symptoms of cancer. Screening simply means that a relatively healthy patient will undergo some tests to see if signs of cancer are already present. A good screening test must be able to find such symptoms early in the onset of the cancer. Not all types of cancer can be detected by just one test. There are specific types of tests for certain kinds of cancer. Many test are carried out negligently in the form of failure to detect or false positive cancer results where no cancer is actually present. If you have been unfortunate enough to suffer from late diagnosis, mis-diagnosis or a false positive result you should take advice from a cancer medical negligence solicitor.

A 'false positive' result of the screening means that you have been diagnosed with cancer - when in fact you do not have cancer. The professional in charge of screening has to be on the lookout for such a false positive misdiagnosis to prevent undue harm to the patient. A patient who has been misdiagnosed may have to suffer physically and financially by having to undergo additional tests for that type of cancer. In addition the patient may also go through unnecessary and painful invasive treatment that in itself damages health including surgery, chemo-therapy and radiation therapy. If this applies to you then you should immediately seek the services of a specialist cancer solicitor who deals with medical negligence compensation claims.

Alternative Cancer Treatment

Aside from conventional cancer therapies, there are now complementary and alternative forms of cancer therapy being applied to cancer cases. A complementary therapy is a form of therapy used in combination with conventional cancer therapies. This kind of therapy may not necessarily cure the cancer but it may be able to make the patient feel less discomfort and more at ease during the period of treatment. Some common types of complementary therapy are: Aromatherapy, Yoga, Acupuncture and Visualization. An alternative therapy, on the other hand, is a form of therapy that is used to replace conventional cancer therapies. Proponents of conventional therapy criticise alternative forms of therapy because they say there is little or no medical and scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of alternative forms of therapy. And it has been found that some alternative therapies can be risky or outright dangerous to the patient. Nevertheless, there are still patients who opt for alternative forms of therapy (particularly when conventional forms of therapy have failed to eradicate the cancer.) Examples of alternative therapies are: shark cartilage, Gerson therapy, and Laetrile. The problem with patients switching from conventional therapies to alternative therapies is the lack of scientific and medical data to back up claims by alternative therapy practitioners. There are researchers who are now looking into conducting thorough testing of some forms of alternative therapy to see if they are effective at removing cancer. But in the absence of conclusive proof, it is advisable that patients do not disregard conventional treatments altogether.

Cancer Medical Negligence Solicitors

If you discover cancer that has worsened as a result of delays by your doctor or through misdiagnosis you should discuss the possibility of a personal injury compensation claim with a cancer medical negligence solicitor. Time limits do apply and failure to comply with the limitation legislation may mean that the opportunity to claim compensation is lost forever. To preserve your legal right to receive compensation you should act now without delay.



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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here