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Delay in the diagnosis of lung and bowel cancer

View profile for Carla Duprey
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We deal with a number of clinical negligence claims relating to a delay in the diagnosis of cancer. These types of cases can be difficult as, although there may have been a delay in the diagnosis, the patient may still require the same treatment that they always would have required to treat the cancer.

In order to establish a successful medical negligence claim, we need to be able to prove that the treatment that the patient would have required or their outcome would have been different with an earlier diagnosis (this is called causation).

Lung cancer

Causation in cases involving the delay in diagnosis of lung cancer can often be difficult. NHS UK report that, ‘Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer’, but that it ‘does not usually cause noticeable symptoms until it's spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body. This means the outlook for the condition is not as good as many other types of cancer’.

As people only develop symptoms later, by the time that the cancer is diagnosed, it often means that they need significant treatment (i.e. chemotherapy) in any event.

The symptoms of lung cancer can include:

  • a cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
  • a long-standing cough that gets worse
  • chest infections that keep coming back
  • coughing up blood
  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • persistent breathlessness
  • persistent tiredness or lack of energy
  • loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.

If a person has these symptoms, they should be referred for further investigations without delay, as a diagnosis at the earliest opportunity can make a difference. 

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is also very common, but it can be treated and cured with surgery alone if it is detected early enough.

The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • persistent blood in your poo
  • a persistent change in your bowel habit
  • persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort.

The NHS offers bowel screening for men and women aged 60 to 74. An additional one-off test, called bowel scope screening, is also gradually being introduced in England for men and women at the age of 55. 

Bowel screening gives the opportunity for any potential cancerous growths to be found and treated at the earliest opportunity.

Attending your GP with bowel symptoms can often be put off, as it is felt to be embarrassing or not urgent. However, if bowel cancer is detected early enough, treatment can cure it and also stop it coming back.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to the negligence of a medical or health professional then we may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation. Our leading team of  medical negligence experts are on hand to offer advice, so please get in touch with us on 0161 696 6165 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.