Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK according to the NHS. If breast cancer is spotted early enough, it is much more likely that any treatment will be successful. Although breast cancer screening has improved over the years, mistakes can lead to breast cancer misdiagnosis. Any delay in treating breast cancer can have a massive impact on your health and you could seek compensation for any avoidable suffering that results. This article on breast cancer claims will explain your options if you’ve suffered because of medical negligence.
If you or a loved one has suffered because of a breast cancer misdiagnosis, you can call our team for a free consultation to review your options. We’ll answer any questions you may have and offer no-obligation legal advice. If you decide that you’d like to sue the NHS or a private healthcare provider for negligence and a medical negligence lawyer on our panel agrees to help, you’ll be represented on a No Win, No Fee basis. Knowing that you won’t need to pay any legal fees unless you are compensated should make the claims process a little less stressful.
To learn more about breast cancer negligence claims, please read on or feel free to call us on 0800 652 1345.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
The NHS provides breast cancer screenings every 3 years for women aged between 50 and 71. During the appointment, 2 x-rays (mammograms) of each breast will be taken. It usually takes around 2 weeks to receive the results of a mammogram.
If there is any indication of breast cancer, you may need to have further tests. These can include:
- A breast examination.
- Further mammograms.
- An ultrasound scan.
- A biopsy where a tissue sample is taken from the breast with a needle.
Aside from the normal screening programme, doctors should refer patients for testing if they spot any signs of breast cancer during an appointment.
Symptoms of breast cancer
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the following symptoms may be suggestive of breast cancer:
- Unexplained lumps (with or without pain) in the breast for patients aged 30 or older.
- Changes to the nipple such as discharge or retraction for patients over 30.
- Skin changes on the breast.
- Deep vein thrombosis (this can be an indicator of various cancers including breast cancer).
In general, NICE guidelines suggest that patients with any of the symptoms listed above should be referred to a cancer specialist within 2-weeks. For patients below 30 years of age with unexplained breast lumps, a non-urgent referral should be considered.
Breast cancer treatment
There are various ways in which breast cancer may be treated depending on the patient’s needs. Some of the options available include:
- Hormonal therapy.
- Cancer medication.
The treatment offered will be based on several factors including how big the cancer is, where in the breast it is located and whether it has spread.
If surgery is required to treat breast cancer it may include:
- Lumpectomy – where the cancerous tissues are removed from the breast.
- Mastectomy – where the whole breast is removed. Breast reconstruction may be carried out at the time or at a later date.
- Lymph node surgery – if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, they may need to be surgically removed.
Again, any delay in starting breast cancer treatment can mean that more drastic treatment is required. This may lead to additional suffering which should be considered if you go on to make a compensation claim.
Can I claim compensation for breast cancer negligence?
When a medical negligence solicitor considers taking on breast cancer claims, they’ll check for:
- Negligence: Where the treatment provided by a medical professional fell below the expected level; and
- Causation: You were made to suffer as a result of that negligence.
As solicitors are not usually medically trained, a third-party specialist will be asked to consider how you were treated. They’ll assess whether the medical professional who treated you should’ve done things differently i.e. they were negligent. Your solicitor will use the specialist’s report to help decide whether to proceed with your claim.
The implications of breast cancer misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis
The importance of diagnosing breast cancer early cannot be understated. That’s because according to Cancer Research UK, 98% of women with stage 1 breast cancer will survive for more than 5 years. The 5-year survival rate drops for each stage of breast cancer as follows:
- 90% for stage 2 breast cancer.
- 70% for stage 3 breast cancer.
- 25% for stage 4 breast cancer.
You could make a breast cancer claim if a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis meant that you needed:
- More invasive treatment was needed.
- A mastectomy (breast removal) had to be performed rather than a lumpectomy.
- Your symptoms were worse than they would have been had treatment started earlier.
- Your breast cancer became untreatable.
Proving what went wrong in a breast cancer compensation claim can be complicated. We believe it’s best to take on support from a specialist solicitor. If you work with one on our panel, they’ll use independent medical experts to examine how you were treated and to see if things could’ve been done differently.
What types of medical negligence could I claim compensation for?
As part of your claim, you will need to prove how a medical professional was negligent during your treatment. Examples of medical negligence leading to breast cancer claims include:
- Failure to refer to a cancer specialist.
- Misdiagnosing breast cancer symptoms as another condition.
- Failure to investigate symptoms properly.
- Failure to conduct the necessary scans or biopsies.
- Misreading of test results.
If you’re not sure whether you have grounds to claim compensation for misdiagnosed breast cancer, please get in touch. We’ll review what happened with you during a no-obligation consultation.
Surgical negligence leading to breast cancer claims
As well as claiming compensation for breast cancer misdiagnosis, you may be entitled to claim compensation if you suffered because of negligence during surgery. For example, breast cancer surgery claims could be based on:
- A failure to remove enough cancerous tissue during surgery resulting in the cancer returning.
- Avoidable cosmetic injuries to the breasts.
- Damage caused by negligence during breast reconstruction surgery.
Again, to verify whether things could’ve been done differently, our solicitors will use independent medical specialists to review what went wrong.
Shouldn’t I just complain to the NHS?
It is true that the NHS has a formal complaints procedure where you can raise concerns about the treatment you received. This is a good way to find out what happened and it can lead to an apology or procedural changes to prevent others from suffering in the same way. However, a complaint will not result in you being compensated for breast cancer being misdiagnosed. The only way that can happen is if you raise a medical negligence claim yourself.
Some people do worry about the implications of suing the NHS. However, it is worth remembering that any compensation you receive is awarded to help you recover as much as possible. Importantly, you will not be suing the individual who treated you and your claim will not affect the NHS budget. Instead, claims are made against NHS Resolve, an organisation that provides insurance cover to hospitals and NHS bodies to cover such claims.
How much compensation for breast cancer misdiagnosis can I claim?
When making any type of medical negligence claim, it’s important to consider exactly how you’ve suffered. General damages can be sought to cover any physical or psychological harm and special damages could be awarded to cover any expenses incurred.
As such, if you make a successful breast cancer claim, you could be compensated for:
- Any physical discomfort, pain and suffering caused by delayed or misdiagnosed breast cancer.
- Psychological support to help with conditions such as distress and anxiety.
- A reduction in your life expectancy.
- Loss of income and future losses too.
- Travel, care and medical expenses (including private medical treatment).
- Any future health implications.
If you work with a medical negligence solicitor on our panel, they’ll work hard to understand how you’ve been affected so that they can try to ensure any compensation payment is fair.
Claiming compensation for a loved one
We understand that no amount of compensation will ever make things better if you’ve lost a loved one because of negligence during breast cancer treatment.
However, claims on behalf of the deceased are possible to cover any unnecessary pain and suffering they endured before they passed away. Claims could also cover your loss of companionship or any financial problems you are facing if you were dependent on your loved one’s income or pension for example.
If you would like us to review your options, please get in touch. One of our friendly advisors will answer any questions you may have.
Breast cancer claims time limits
In the UK, there is a 3-year time limit for medical negligence claims. For breast cancer negligence claims, the limitation period will usually start from your date of knowledge.
This is likely to be the date when a doctor diagnosed your condition and realised that it could’ve been spotted sooner. If you’re not sure when your time limit began, we can check for you.
Ideally, we would suggest that you start your claim as soon as you can. That’s because if you need to pay for care costs, private medical treatment or you’re struggling because of a reduced income, you may be entitled to receive interim payments before the claim has been finalised. Also, starting the claims process early can make it easier to secure proof that supports your claim.
If you wish to claim compensation for the loss of a loved one from breast cancer due to medical negligence, your 3-year time limit will start from the date they passed away.
No Win, No Fee claims
Any form of medical negligence claim can be complex and time-consuming. For many, the fear of hiring a medical negligence solicitor to work on their claim can be off-putting because they worry about the legal fees if the claim fails. For that reason, our team of solicitors provide a No Win, No Fee service for any breast cancer claims they take on.
If your claim is accepted and you decide to proceed, you’ll receive a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This will explain that:
- You don’t need to pay any legal fees upfront.
- You won’t pay your solicitor for their work if the claim fails.
- You’ll pay up to 25% of any settlement as a success fee if your breast cancer claim is won.
During the claims process, your solicitor’s main goals will be to:
- Speak with you to find out how you’ve suffered.
- Collect all of the proof necessary to support a breast cancer claim.
- File the claim on your behalf with NHS Resolution or an insurance company (for private hospitals).
- Deal with all communication so that you don’t need to handle any difficult questions directly.
- Provide additional proof to counter any objections where possible.
- Provide regular updates about how your claim is progressing.
- Review any settlement offer with you to check whether it is fair and covers all of your suffering.
You won’t need to pay for any of the work listed unless compensation is awarded. In all cases, our panel of solicitors will always try to secure the highest amount of compensation for breast cancer negligence possible.
To see if you could make a breast cancer claim on a No Win, No Fee basis, please speak with us today.
Start a breast cancer claim today
The easiest way to find out if you might be entitled to breast cancer compensation is to call our team on 0800 652 1345 today. During your initial consultation, a specialist advisor will answer your questions, provide legal advice and consider your options with you.
If they believe your claim has a fair chance of success, they’ll connect you with a medical negligence solicitor on our panel who’ll manage everything on a No Win, No Fee basis if they agree to represent you.
Please feel free to call or use our live chat service if you have any further questions about breast cancer claims.