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Compensation for delayed cancer diagnosis

As one of the leading causes of death in the UK, any delay in treating cancer can have a devastating effect on the patient and their loved ones. Over 300,000 new cancers are diagnosed in the UK each year and while developments in treatment in recent years has led to significant improvement in recovery rates, there are sadly many occasions when a delayed diagnosis results in a poor prognosis for the patient.

There are over 200 different types of cancer, which present in various ways and require different forms of medical intervention. But it is nearly always the case that an early diagnosis and referral for treatment is key to ensuring the best chances of recovery. With prompt and appropriate treatment, survival rates have never been better with many forms of cancer. However, when there is unnecessary delay in treatment, the consequences are increased physical and psychological suffering, more invasive surgery, reduced chances of recovery and inevitably, increased anxiety for the patient and their family.

Compensation for a delayed cancer diagnosis can help provide financial security for the patient and their family, particularly if the patient has been unable to work or requires long term care and support. IBB’s clinical negligence solicitors appreciate the important role that compensation can play in providing funding for private treatment and therapy during the course of the claim and where possible, we will seek an interim payment from the responsible party to help fund treatment and daily living costs.  

During these worrying and stressful times, our approachable and friendly clinical negligence team will provide you with expert advice on the complexities of bringing a claim for compensation.

Are there time limits when bringing a claim?

There are time limits for bringing a claim for compensation caused by delayed cancer diagnosis, with the general rule being a 3-year time limit from the date of the medical error, but this can be longer depending on the precise circumstances. With cases involving children, the time-limit does not start to run until their 18th birthday and where the claim involves someone who has died as a consequence of the cancer, the time-limit of 3 years runs from the date of death.

How to start a delayed cancer diagnosis claim

We understand that most people will not have needed to claim compensation before and that the first steps in bringing a claim will appear daunting. Our clinical negligence solicitors are specialists in cancer claims and will guide you through every step of the way to ensure that you fully understand the process involved and the likely outcomes of each stage.

Our approachable team of clinical negligence solicitors are experts in their field and will be happy to meet with you to discuss your claim and explain how we can help.    

We offer a free initial consultation to enable you to explain how you have been affected by the late diagnosis and your concerns about the treatment. We will provide you with a clear preliminary assessment on the merits of your claim and set out the range of investigation to be undertaken to support your cancer claim.

We also offer no win, no fee agreements for Cancer Compensation Claims, meaning there is no upfront cost and no financial risk to you when you start a claim for with IBB.

To start a compensation claim for the late diagnosis of your cancer, or the misdiagnosis, call us today on 0333 123 9099. Alternatively, you can email us at or use the contact form on the right to request a callback.

Our expertise with late diagnosis of cancer claims

Our specialist clinical negligence solicitors have years of experience handling compensation claims for late cancer diagnosis for people throughout England and Wales. We have successfully settled many claims for compensation where there has been a failure to provide timely treatment or where has been a misdiagnosis.

Our specialism is in handling complex and high value claims. Our experience includes cases involving misdiagnosis following the review of scans, failure by a GP to recognise cancer-related  symptoms and refer the patient for specialist investigation, delays with arranging tests and delays with reporting medical investigations.      

We are accredited by the Law Society for Personal Injury Law reflecting our expertise with a range of injury claims.

Our team has also been recognised by the two leading client guides to the legal profession Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 for our exceptional skill in handling clinical negligence claims, with the Legal 500 ranking us Tier 1 for Personal Injury: Claimant.

Types of late cancer diagnosis claims

It is estimated that approximately one-third of the population will be diagnosed with a form of cancer in their lifetime. Although the nature of the symptoms and investigations will vary considerably between different cancers, it is commonly the GP at the frontline when it comes to identifying patients with possible cancer.

For this reason, GPs are trained and provided with regularly updated guidance on how to recognise the risk factors and early signs of cancer. Cancer pathway referrals have been developed to ensure that suspected cancer patients are provided with an urgent appointment (usually within two weeks) and appropriate investigation for the suspected cancer.

Late diagnosis of cancer is commonly found to be a key reason for a poor prognosis. Studies have found that the delays often arise from diagnostic error, usually caused by a GP’s failing to recognise cancer symptoms that may not fit the typical pattern, or error caused by symptoms that can be explained by other less serious conditions.

Once cancer has been diagnosed, the NHS guidance states that patients should not have to wait more than 31 days for their treatment to start, once a decision has been made to treat. Unfortunately, treatment is sometimes provided too late, often due to insufficient resources but also frequently as a result of internal failings, with doctors slow to offer an appointment, arrange testing, make a diagnosis and start treatment.  We have also dealt with many cases where a misdiagnosis has been made following timely investigation, resulting in the wrong type of treatment being provided to the patient.  

Our experience of cancer compensations claims means we are able to help in the following circumstances: 

  • Late diagnosis of breast cancer
  • Late diagnosis of prostate cancer
  • Late diagnosis of ovarian cancer
  • Late diagnosis of lung cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer late diagnosis
  • Stomach cancer late diagnosis
  • Cervical cancer late diagnosis
  • Late diagnosis of colorectal cancer
  • Testicular cancer late diagnosis
  • Late diagnosis of oesophageal cancer
  • Late diagnosis of oral cancer
  • Bowel cancer late diagnosis
  • Late diagnosis stomach cancer
  • Late diagnosis of thyroid cancer
  • Late diagnosis of colon cancer
  • Late diagnosis of bladder cancer
  • Skin cancer late diagnosis
  • Late diagnosis of liver cancer    

Covid-19 and Cancer

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused huge worldwide disruption and this has placed severe pressures on the UK’s cancer services. A large backlog of cases has developed, with cancer charities reporting that within 10 weeks of the lockdown, there were over 2 million people in the UK waiting for screening, tests and treatment.

Patients that require urgent screening and investigation are not receiving the necessary treatment in good time. Large screening backlogs have developed but the main concern surrounds delays with cancer diagnosis and treatment, and the impact this will have on survival rates. The charity, Cancer Research, has reported during the lockdown period the number of operations to treat cancer has dropped to 60% of normal levels.

The main reasons identified for the large backlog of cancer patients during the Covid-19 restrictions includes overstretched or insufficient NHS resources, the failure of patients to report symptoms, patients “shielding” during crisis and the failure of GP’s to refer patients to hospital during lockdown. The under-reporting of cancer cases during the Covid-19 lockdown has led to concerns that there will be a surge of new cases as the restrictions are lifted at a time when the health service remains stretched and under-resourced.

How we handle delayed diagnosis of cancer compensation claims

We aim to achieve the best possible compensation for you by obtaining the strongest expert evidence possible to support the claim.

While we have considerable experience in taking cases to trial, we also recognise that most people would prefer not to have to attend court if it can be avoided. Fortunately, our medical negligence team are highly skilled in negotiating out-of-court settlements through mediation with our opponent, meaning we can nearly always secure compensation without the need for you to attend court.

However, we have experience in issuing court proceedings in cancer compensation claims, and you can be assured that we will offer you strong legal representation whilst maintaining focus on your objectives. Our goal is to secure the best possible compensation to reflect the physical, emotional and financial consequences of a delayed cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis.

At all times, we will provide a sensitive and friendly service, providing legal advice in plain language, with the overall aim of minimising the stress of a claim at an already difficult time.

Court proceedings for late diagnosis of cancer

Should it become necessary to commence legal proceedings, our clinical negligence specialist lawyers will guide you through every stage of the litigation process. We will prepare your case for trial with the support of leading personal injury barristers and utilising our relationship with medical cancer specialists and other professionals.

If your case does require you to attend court, we will ensure you are fully prepared by guiding you through every potential scenario and arranging for you to meet with the barrister and medical experts in advance of any court hearing. Attending court is naturally nerve-racking but we will take every step possible to relieve the pressure and help you understand what to expect. It is with thorough preparation of the case that we will be able to secure the best outcome.

Our no win no fee delayed cancer diagnosis claims service

We are prepared to offer a Conditional Fee Agreement, commonly known as a “no win, no fee” agreement, in most cases where we consider our client has reasonable prospects of success in pursuing a claim for late diagnosis of cancer.

The benefit of pursuing the claim funded by a “no win, no fee” agreement is that we do not require any upfront payment from our client. If the claim is ultimately unsuccessful, usually because it is unsupported by expert medical evidence, we will not charge our clients for the costs incurred, no matter how much.  

At the outset of the claim, we will provide a comprehensive and totally transparent explanation of the options in relation to legal fees. We will ensure there are no unpleasant surprises. We will also take steps to protect you from having to pay any costs to the other side or for any expenses. The funding agreement that we offer means that our clients cannot be out of pocket if the claim is unsuccessful.

Delayed cancer diagnosis FAQs

  • Am I entitled to compensation for late diagnosis of cancer?

You should be entitled to claim compensation if you can prove that the standard of care provided by your treating medical practitioners fell below an acceptable standard and that this failure caused additional harm and a worse medical outcome.

  • How much compensation for delayed cancer diagnosis?

It is difficult at the outset of a delayed cancer diagnosis claim to provide an accurate valuation. There are many factors that will determine how much compensation you will receive, including:

  • The degree of pain and suffering caused by the negligent treatment
  • The financial losses arising from the additional harm caused, including loss of earnings, treatment costs and care needs
  • Future financial losses and expenses arising from long term disability.
  • The impact on you and your loved ones. 

We commit to advise our clients at the earliest opportunity on the realistic value of their claim.

  • How long does it take to claim for delayed diagnosis of cancer?

Cancer claims are usually complex cases requiring substantial medical input from specialist consultants. It is quite common for claims to take around 2 years but there are many factors that will affect the duration of the claim, including whether the other party accepts liability for the harm, the severity of the harm and the length of the recovery. Sadly, some patients do not recover from their cancer and IBB will continue to pursue the claim on behalf of the deceased’s Estate and loved ones. The death of the patient does not prevent a claim from being pursued.

  • Will cancer compensation affect my benefits?

A significant compensation payment for a delayed cancer diagnosis could affect your entitlement to means tested state benefits. Our team of clinical negligence lawyers can advise you on the right legal steps to protect your state benefits by placing your compensation in a personal injury trust. By placing your compensation in a trust, the compensation will not be taken into consideration when assessing a claimant for means tested state benefits. IBB has a specialist trust team who can offer advice on the best way to safeguard your benefits and compensation.

Insights into delayed cancer treatment

If you are interested in learning more, please read our other articles on cancer claims and issues concerning delays and misdiagnosis:

Get in touch with our expert delayed cancer diagnosis solicitors today

To arrange your free consultation with one of clinical negligence solicitors to discuss starting a cancer claim, please call us on 0333 123 9099, email us at or use the contact form on the right to request a call back.   


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