Can I make a breast cancer negligence claim?
Medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients. They have a responsibility to recognise the symptoms of breast cancer and refer the patient for appropriate care as soon as possible.
If doctors fail in their duty of care and breast cancer is not properly diagnosed or treated, the patient can make a breast cancer negligence claim.
For example, you could make a breast cancer claim if:
- Doctors overlooked your symptoms, leading to a late diagnosis of breast cancer which could have worsened your prognosis
- Doctors wrongly diagnosed you with another condition instead of breast cancer, meaning you did not receive the right treatment
- You were wrongly told you had breast cancer, causing consequences such as unnecessary medical treatment
- Delays in the referral process obstructed you receiving timely and appropriate treatment for your condition
- You received a poor standard of medical care which caused you unnecessary pain and suffering.
If you wish to make a breast cancer compensation claim, there are time limits you need to be aware of. You need to bring your claim within three years of the date you became aware of the negligence and its impacts.
As with any medical negligence claim, we recommend that you contact a specialist solicitor as soon as possible to ensure that your claim can be made within the time limits.
Why choose Thompsons Solicitors?
You’ll be in safe hands when you make a claim with Thompsons.
Our medical negligence solicitors are among the best in the country, and The Times has included us on their list of the UK’s top clinical negligence law firms for four years in a row.
We also have specialist expertise in breast cancer negligence claims. Our lawyers have successfully represented hundreds of victims of jailed surgeon Ian Paterson. Paterson, who worked for the NHS as well as private hospitals, misdiagnosed many people with cancer, even performing mastectomies on women who did not have the disease.
We’re available for a free, no-obligation chat about your case – simply request a call back today.
Can I make a no win, no fee breast cancer compensation claim?
Yes – you can make a cancer misdiagnosis claim with Thompsons on a no win, no fee basis, so you won’t have to pay any legal fees until you win your case. We also cap our fees, so you’ll always keep at least 75% of your compensation.
About breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the UK. According to Cancer Research UK, there are approximately 55,000 cases diagnosed annually. Tragically, there are around 11,500 deaths caused by breast cancer each year.
Breast cancer predominantly affects women, but men can also suffer from the disease. In the UK, men account for about 1% of breast cancer diagnoses.
There are a number of symptoms of which you should be aware. However, in the vast majority of cases where these symptoms are present, there is no cancer.
Despite this, it is important that you contact their GP if you do experience any of the following:
- A lump or thickening within the breast
- Alterations in shape or size of a breast or nipple (for example nipple becoming inverted)
- Bleeding from a nipple
- A rash on or around a nipple
- A lump or thickened area in the arm pit.
Testing for breast cancer
When potentially sinister symptoms are identified in a patient, medical professionals employ a triple assessment to aid with diagnosis. The triple assessment consists of:
- A physical examination of the breast
- Breast imaging, which includes mammograms and ultrasound
- Cytopathology, which is the removal of a small number of cells from the breast using a needle. The cells are then examined for evidence of disease.
Breast cancer treatment
There are a number of different treatment options available for breast cancer.
The treatments may be combined depending on the needs of the patient. In some circumstances a patient may have different options regarding their treatment, in which case, their breast care nurse will play an important role in advising the patient as to the possible treatment paths.
Generally, where cancer has been diagnosed, a patient will be offered one, some or all of the following treatment options:
- Hormone therapy
- Biological treatments.
For more information regarding the symptoms, testing and treatment options for breast cancer, please refer to www.cancerhelp.org.uk.
The most common medical errors in breast cancer cases
The success rates for breast cancer treatments are improving year-on-year. Women who are diagnosed today are far more likely to have a positive outcome than 10 years ago. Unfortunately, any errors can lead to a worse outcome for the patient.
These are some of the most common errors that we see when dealing with breast cancer negligence cases:
- Where the patient can feel a lump but her GP cannot, so no referral is made. It is important to remember that not all lumps are easily identified by touch. If a GP fails to refer a patient to a breast unit because the GP cannot feel a lump, the GP may have been negligent should it transpire that the patient was actually suffering from breast cancer.
- Where there is no lump, but the patient has other symptoms, such as pain in the breast. One-sided breast pain can be a symptom of breast cancer, even where there is no lump. A failure to refer a patient to the breast unit under these circumstances could be negligent if the patient is later diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Misinterpreted mammograms. A mammogram is interpreted by a breast radiologist. Sometimes the radiologist will report that the scan does not indicate cancer, when in fact breast cancer should have been inferred from the scan. This is called a false negative and can result in a delay in treatment. On the other hand, a radiologist may report that a mammogram indicates that the patient has cancer when they do not. This is known as a false positive, and can result in a patient having to undergo unnecessary treatment. Both types of error can result in legal action.
- Delay in a patient being seen by the breast unit following a referral. Sometimes a patient may be referred to the breast unit for screening, but there is a delay between when the referral was made and an appointment being provided. If the delay causes the patient to suffer a worse outcome than they would have done if an adequately prompt appointment were given, then a patient may have a right to claim compensation for the delay. This type of delay is much more common in women under the age of 35, who may be thought of as lower risk. Delays can be caused if a GP makes the referral to the breast unit without specifying that they suspect the patient may have breast cancer. The breast unit may then provide the patient with a routine appointment many months in future, by which point the cancer could have progressed.
- Failure to properly conduct the triple assessment. This is the three-stage testing process to diagnose breast cancer, and includes a physical examination, a mammogram, and a biopsy. A properly undertaken triple assessment can significantly reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis of cancer. When the triple assessment is not undertaken and the correct diagnosis is delayed as a result, the patient may succeed in a claim for compensation.
If you have received a medical misdiagnosis or negligent treatment, request a call back from our legal experts.