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Misdiagnosis of Cancer

It’s a sad fact but misdiagnosis of cancer is happening within our health services.

Cancer services in general have greatly improved in the United Kingdom over the past 20 years but unfortunately misdiagnosis of cancer is still happening, sometimes as a result of medical negligence.

Unfortunately, we can often be dependent on a medical professional’s interpretation of symptoms as well as them requesting for the correct tests to be made, which does not always happen or happens too slowly.

It is common, for example, for breast cancer to be misdiagnosed in males and young females. It is also very common for cancer to be misdiagnosed in children. This is because the symptoms are vague and children can have difficulty explaining their symptoms accurately.

Misdiagnosis of Cancer can occur in several circumstances such as:

  1. Where the problem is not Cancer but you are treated as though you have Cancer
  2. Where you do have cancer but you don’t receive the correct treatment
  3. Where you do have cancer but this remains undiagnosed or are there is a significant delay in your diagnosis

The main hurdle in any medical negligence case is establishing liability and causation.


For a Claimant to be successful, they must establish 3 things:

  1. The medical practitioner owed the Claimant a duty of care ( in the normal course of events it is clear that a medical practitioner owes a patient a duty of care
  2. That the Medical Practitioner has breached that duty
  3. That the loss suffered by the Claimant is as a result of that breach of duty and not some other cause

In terms of Breach of Duty, there is a test that is applied in medical negligence cases, to see if the medical practitioner has followed a course of action which is not supported by any reasonable body of medical opinion.


The Claimant in a medical negligence claim must be able to satisfy the Court, that if the medical practitioner had not had a breach of duty they would not have suffered the losses complained of.

An example of misdiagnosis

A practical example of this is where the claimant has suffered from arsenic poisoning, but this is not diagnosed by the Hospital and the Claimant dies. The Hospital would not be liable because even if the hospital had diagnosed arsenic poisoning, the Claimant would have died in any event and, therefore, the Hospital has not caused the claimant’s death.

Don’t worry if you are unsure about the issue of proof. Simply call our medical negligence solicitors on 0800 298 9690 and we can advise you on your legal position.


Where there has been a misdiagnosis it can be extremely stressful causing depression. You could end up receiving treatment for cancer unnecessarily that could be disfiguring and extremely painful.

A devastating misdiagnosis of cancer is when you are given negative results or told you have a different illness when in fact you have cancer.

This can lead to serious consequences as the cancer becomes more aggressive. A person’s life expectancy can be shortened if the cancer is not treated and even can lead to death.

Click here to read some of the commonly asked questions regarding misdiagnosis of cancer

If you feel that you could have been misdiagnosed for example with cancer as a result of medical negligence call our medical negligence solicitors on 0800 298 9690 or alternatively fill in the claim now form to the right of this screen and we will call you back.


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