A diagnosis of cancer is devastating enough for both you and your family, but it is even worse if your prognosis is affected because the cancer was misdiagnosed or improperly treated by your GP or oncologist.

Jane Couch, a Partner  in the Clinical Negligence department in Newton Abbot, explains how such mistakes can occur and outlines how you might be entitled to compensation if your cancer treatment is delayed or wrongly treated as a result of medical error.

‘Thankfully there is a high standard of cancer care in this country,’ says Jane Couch ‘but sometimes mistakes do happen and if they do, you will understandably want to seek answers from those responsible.’

Types of cancer misdiagnosis

Medical misdiagnosis in cancer cases generally falls into three categories:

  • complete misdiagnosis – where a condition is missed altogether;
  • late diagnosis – where a condition is spotted after advancing further than it should; and
  • incorrect diagnosis – resulting in the wrong treatments and medication being prescribed.

Such misdiagnoses could arise because of mistakes made in the diagnostic test process, through the doctor dismissing your cancer as something more trivial, or through missing diagnosis complications or related diseases. Mistakes of this type can be disastrous in cancer cases, greatly increasing your pain and suffering, prolonging your recovery time and, in some cases meaning the difference between life and death.

Who is responsible?

If you think that there has been a failure by a medical professional during your cancer treatment you will need to start your claim (with the issue of proceedings) within three years of the date the misdiagnosis become apparent.

How a solicitor can help

If you have suffered delayed or incorrect treatment for your cancer, you should obtain legal advice as soon as possible. An expert clinical negligence lawyer will quickly assess your case and advise you whether you have a valid claim.

They will help you gather the evidence you need to bring your case – such as medical records and witness accounts – and refer you to an independent medical expert to gauge the effect the misdiagnosis or incorrect cancer treatment has had on your life.

Your lawyer will guide you through the claim’s procedure – fight to negotiate a fair out-of-court settlement on your behalf or be with you all the way if the case has to go to court. You could potentially claim compensation for:

  • pain and suffering;
  • loss of earnings;
  • care
  • additional medical treatment or rehabilitation;
  • out-of-pocket expenses; and
  • adaptations required to your home.


For further information, please contact Jane Couch, a Partner in the PI and Clinical Negligence department, on 01626 202413 or janecouch@wbw.co.uk. WBW Solicitors has offices in Newton Abbot, Exeter, Torquay, Paignton, Bovey Tracey, Launceston, Honiton, Exmouth and Sidmouth.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.