Why is Cancer Misdiagnosis on the Rise in the UK? - MND

Why is Cancer Misdiagnosis on the Rise in the UK?

Why is Cancer Misdiagnosis on the Rise in the UK?


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    According to Cancer Research UK, about 360,000 are diagnosed with cancer yearly in the UK. Additionally, it has also been found that 4 out of 10 people who receive a cancer diagnosis have been misdiagnosed at least once before obtaining the correct diagnosis. The rising incidences of cancer misdiagnosis can indicate potential cases of negligent treatment.

    Furthermore, from the figures released by the NHS, it is evident that cancer waiting times is said to be at its worst for more than 10 years. The NHS had planned to reduce cancer waiting times to pre pandemic levels but have failed to meet the set targets. In 2022, about 50% of NHS trusts in England could not meet the 14-day cancer referral target in every single month of the year.

    Than 3% of England’s NHS trusts met a key waiting-times target last year for cancer patients to be treated within two months of an urgent GP referral. Out of 125 hospital trusts in England analysed, only three (2.4%) hit the standard of treating 85% of patients within 62 days after an urgent referral in 2022.

    Cancer Misdiagnosis Rise in the UK

    What is Cancer Misdiagnosis?

    Misdiagnosis of cancer could come in the form of giving a wrong diagnosis when a patient has cancer. It may also be that a patient’s condition was completely missed and eventually diagnosed at a later date. Cancer misdiagnosis could also mean that a patient who is free from cancer was given an incorrect cancer diagnosis.

    Misdiagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on any patient. The condition may be correctly diagnosed much later when the disease could have spread and may have gone past a stage where the patient can be treated effectively. This can have an impact on the life expectancy of the individual.

    On the other hand, when an individual who has a much less serious illness is given a cancer diagnosis, this will cause unnecessary psychological damage, emotional stress or even needless surgery performed.

    Misdiagnosis of cancer can reduce the chances of survival, life expectancy and can increases the length of time a patient will spend receiving treatment. It is therefore important that medical staff fulfil their duty of care to their patients and provide the best possible care for them.

    Failing to spot signs of cancer, failing to refer to a specialist for expert care, failing to carry out necessary tests and being “given false all clear”, is a breach of this duty of care. For this reason, if a doctor misdiagnosed cancer, it is considered to be medical negligence.

    If you or your loved one has been misdiagnosed with cancer or has received an incorrect cancer diagnosis or a false “all clear” after some treatment when in fact cancer is still present, then you may be able to make cancer misdiagnosis claims. A successful claim for wrong cancer diagnosis can provide you the needed monetary support to help you access better care, have a better life and provide for your dependents.

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    Reasons for Rise in Cancer Misdiagnosis in the UK

    There are a number of possible factors that have led to increased misdiagnosis of cancer. These include;

    1. Shortage in Workforce

    Understaffing issues have plagued the NHS in recent years. It has even been reported that the NHS is 12,000 doctors short across the UK. Over the three years leading up March 2022, the number of full-time equivalent GPs fell by more than 700. Additionally, hospital waiting lists have hit a record 7.3 million according to latest figures. With such an incredibly high number of patients on waiting lists, there is enormous pressure on the existing NHS staff who are required to do so much more. This can lead to avoidable mistakes in healthcare delivery.

    2. Dependence on Machines

    Over reliance on machinery more than skills could have had its effect on the rise in incorrect cancer diagnosis. Although technology and machines play a huge role in medical practice, it can also come with its own disadvantages.

    Four in 10 NHS hospitals in England are using out-of-date clinical equipment, which increases the probability of getting inaccurate results as there are higher chances that results could be wrongly interpreted. This can lead to delayed cancer diagnosis.

    3. Similar Symptoms

    At the initial stage, most cancers present symptoms that are similar to less serious medical conditions. It is very possible that a patient could receive a wrong diagnosis because the doctor thinks it’s nothing serious.

    For instance, Bowel cancer can be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, or colitis. Furthermore, without proper tests, breast cancer may be misdiagnosed as cellulitis, benign masses or fibrocystic breasts. Lung cancer may also be initially misdiagnosed as asthma, bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

    This is why relevant tests should be carried out before diagnosis is made. Tests such as mammogram, biopsy, needle aspiration, Pap smear tests, HPV tests, X-ray, CT scan, PET-CT scans, laparoscopy, MRI scan among others are vital tests for different kinds of cancer.

    4. Uncooperative Patients

    When patients are being difficult or disruptive, chances of misdiagnosis are higher. It has been discovered that doctors were 42% more likely to misdiagnose a patient who is aggressive, questioning the doctor’s competence, ignoring the doctor’s help or presuming that the doctor won’t take them seriously.

    The study suggested that the doctor’s ability is impaired by the mental energy needed to deal with patients that display such kind of behaviour.

    Have you suffered Misdiagnosis of your Cancer Condition?

    The consequences of incorrect cancer diagnosis can be catastrophic and lead to permanent damage. We are a claims management company and receive payments from our partnered law firms for our service. We are here to help you get the justice you deserve.

    Simply contact us 0800 644 4240 for a free, no obligation assessment of your potential claim. Upon a successful assessment we will connect you with one of our partnered medical negligence solicitors who will assist with your potential claim.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

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