For anyone with cancer, time is of the essence.

Early detection is crucial and the sooner treatment is started, the better the prognosis is likely to be. Which is why, a delayed or wrong cancer diagnosis can be particularly devastating.

Unfortunately, cancer misdiagnosis in the UK is on the rise. In 2019, it was discovered that GPs initially fail to spot two-thirds of cases – and, unsurprisingly, the pandemic has added to this issue.

A recent analysis of NHS England data revealed that 1.85 million urgent cancer referrals were made between March 2020 and January 2021 – which is a 16% drop compared to the same period the year before. Britain is said to be facing a ‘ticking time bomb’ of missed cancer cases and a substantial increase in avoidable cancer deaths is expected as a result.

Misdiagnosed cancer is a form of medical negligence – and if you’ve been affected, you could be entitled to compensation. As specialist medical negligence solicitors, here at Injury Lawyers Direct, we appreciate how upset and frustrated you must feel. And we believe it’s incredibly important that you seek both the financial justice and sincere apology that you deserve.

Here we answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

How common is cancer misdiagnosis?

Sadly, cancer misdiagnosis isn’t a rare occurrence. In fact, research has found that between 10-20% of cancer cases are misdiagnosed worldwide. And approximately 4 out of every 10 patients with cancer in the UK receive the wrong diagnosis at least once before their disease is correctly identified.

Different types of cancer have different misdiagnosis rates. But some of the most common types to be misdiagnosed include:

  • breast cancer
  • lung cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • skin cancer
  • lymphoma

What counts as an incorrect or late cancer diagnosis?

A misdiagnosis can be made by any medical professional – NHS or private – and refers to any instance in which a patient’s symptoms are either incorrectly identified, or not identified at the earliest opportunity. This could be due to a number of reasons.

Some of the most common errors that lead to a misdiagnosed cancer case include:

  • a lack of investigation into symptoms of ill health
  • failure to request or a delay in diagnostic tests (e.g. biopsy)
  • symptoms of cancer missed or misinterpreted
  • test results incorrectly interpreted
  • delayed referral to see a specialist
  • malignancy not identified
  • administrative errors

Essentially, if the error caused a delay in your cancer treatment – therefore having a direct impact on your physical health, mental wellbeing, and chances of recovery – this is deemed medical negligence. A medical professional failed in their ‘duty of care’ to you as the patient. And you could be entitled to make a cancer misdiagnosis claim.

Misdiagnosed cancer case

Why does cancer misdiagnosis happen?

First and foremost, cancer can be very difficult to diagnose, even for a specialised and experienced doctor. There are more than 200 different types of cancer currently identified, and many of these share similar symptoms with other – often less serious – illnesses and conditions. No matter how frustrating it may be, it’s easy to understand how these symptoms can be misidentified.

There isn’t a clear answer as to why cancer misdiagnosis cases have increased so much in recent years. But some of the biggest contributing factors are likely to include:


  • appointment delays – medical cancer checks are often pushed back due to long waiting lists and a backlog of appointments. This is particularly true since the onset of the pandemic.


  • understaffing in the NHS – the NHS has struggled with understaffing issues for many years now. The shortage inevitably places strain on existing NHS staff. As a result, a diagnosis may be rushed and mistakes are more likely.


  • Over-reliance on machinery – medical technology and machinery are crucial to the successful diagnosis of cancer. However, medical staff sometimes interpret the results incorrectly. Relying too heavily on these findings – rather than looking at the bigger picture – can sometimes, therefore, be detrimental.


Man making cancer misdiagnosis claim

Fallen victim to cancer misdiagnosis?

Under UK law, if you have experienced a delayed or incorrect cancer diagnosis – due to an error made by a medical professional – you’re entitled to take appropriate legal action. And you should.

The consequences of misdiagnosed cancer can be incredibly serious. Life-threatening, even. Not only do you deserve compensation for the emotional distress and impact on your health, the money could also help to support your recovery. What’s more, cancer misdiagnosis claims can help to shine a light on the mistake made – allowing lessons to be learned and, hopefully, preventing the same thing from happening again in the future.

In most cases, you have 3 years to make a claim, from the point at which the cancer misdiagnosis becomes apparent. Should the misdiagnosis lead to terminal illness, a spouse, child, or parent can also claim for cancer misdiagnosis compensation up to 3 years after the date of death.

So, why not get in touch and speak to our medical negligence solicitors today?

All of our work, here at Injury Lawyers Direct, is completed on a completely ‘no win no fee’ basis and we can take care of everything on your behalf. From filing the initial paperwork to negotiating a settlement, we’ll oversee all legal proceedings – allowing you to focus on getting better.

To find out more about cancer misdiagnosis claims, or to arrange a free no-obligation consultation with our experts, please feel free to call us on 0800 110  5888. Alternatively, fill out our online contact form and a member of the team will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

Author Paramount Digital

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