November 30, 2018
Receiving a cancer diagnosis for yourself or for a family member or close friend can be devastating; particularly if the disease is at an advanced stage or has spread into different parts of the body.
It can be even harder to understand and accept where there has been an avoidable delay in that diagnosis which results in a poorer prognosis.
The timing of a diagnosis of cancer can be crucial to its chances of being successfully treated and to the individual’s chances of survival. If a cancer is diagnosed early then the individual’s treating team can ensure they receive the most effective treatment to enable them to overcome the disease and live a full life. Too late and the treatment options may be significantly limited and the individual’s chances of surviving the disease are reduced.
Routes to Diagnosis
According to NCIN: Routes to Diagnosis; 1 in 4 cancers in the UK are diagnosed through emergency admission to hospital. This route carries a much lower chance of survival than if the cancer is diagnosed earlier by appropriate and timely referrals and investigations.
Delays in diagnosis of cancer may be as a result of GPs failing to recognise the signs or symptoms of cancer or failing to make an appropriate referral. This can be due to pressures on GP surgeries which can mean that patients do not see the same GP regularly who knows them and can recognise when something is not right.
GPs urge their patients to be open and thorough when discussing their symptoms and any concerns they may have so any problems can be investigated and identified; however, on occasions there be a lack of effective communication or a failure to act which can lead to missed opportunities.
Some cancers are more prone to rapid growth and are more aggressive and resistant to treatment. An earlier diagnosis does not always result in a better outcome; however, a timely diagnosis may help the individual and their families to better cope with their illness and to plan effectively. An earlier diagnosis may also help to reduce the individual’s suffering; physically; psychologically and emotionally by ensuring they have access to the most appropriate care to manage their symptoms and pain so they can live as full a life as possible and to live it with dignity.
Be Clear on Cancer
Public Health England recently ran a Be Clear on Cancer campaign (19 July – 23 September 2018) called ‘Blood in Pee’ aimed at raising awareness of the symptoms of bladder and kidney cancer. The Be Clear on Cancer campaigns aim to encourage people to feel confident to discuss their symptoms with their GP with a view to achieving earlier diagnosis of cancer which in turn increases the scope for successful treatment.
As a Solicitor in the Serious Injury Team dealing with Clinical Negligence cases here at Spencers Solicitors; I have acted on behalf of clients and their families following a delay in their cancer diagnosis and have seen how devastating it can be. Individuals and their families can be left confused, traumatised and angry by their experience.
If you suspect that you or a member of your family has suffered as a result of a failure or a delay to diagnose cancer then Spencers Solicitors can provide advice and guidance.