According to Cancer UK, there are more than 200 types of cancer ranging from the more common breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancers to the rare types of tumour and children’s cancers.
The use of smears, scan and biopsies is vital to the early detection and treatment of cancer, especially female cervical cancer involving the lower part of the womb.
If you or a loved one has received a misdiagnosis for cancer caused by a failure, delay or misreading of the results of a smear, scan or biopsy, the consequences can be devastating.
Misdiagnosis of a cancer... can lead to unnecessary and painful interventions such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery for the wrong condition while the actual cause of the symptoms is left undetected and untreated.
Failure to detect a cancer... means a crucial opportunity to catch and treat the disease early can be lost. In some cases, the spread of an undetected cancer could lead to major complications in subsequent treatments, which may be fatal
Responsibility to interpret, diagnose and act...
Your GP/doctor, specialist or other clinician has a responsibility to:
You may have a strong claim for clinical negligence if the standard of appropriate care fell below expectation due to:
Trying to come to terms with how a ‘standard’ clinical procedure failed is not always easy and finding out the reasons why this happened can sometimes be complicated.
Your Legal Friend has many years of experience in successfully resolving all types of clinical negligence cases involving cancer. Our specialist knowledge of both legal and medical issues, together with an awareness and understanding of how everyone involved is affected, can help you:
Forty years ago, half of all patients died within one year of diagnosis. Today, average life expectancy, based on the length of time from either the date of diagnosis or the start of treatment, is around six years. Nearly two in three of adult cervical cancer patients can now survive ten or yearsor more.
Advances in screening and the detection techniques of smear tests, scans and biopsies to detect cancer have significantly improved the interpretation of results, diagnoses and treatments. Their use by doctors to make an early and accurate diagnosis is crucial to extending life expectancy.
What is a smear test?
Cell samples taken from the inside of the cervix (the lower part of the womb) are smeared across a glass microscope slide to detect cancers, ‘pre-cancers’ (abnormal cell changes) and other conditions. In older women, there may be insufficient cells for analysis, and so they may require a repeat smear test.
What happens next...
If the results of the test show any suspicious signs, such as inflammation, or are actually cancerous:
False negative test result...
While smear tests are the most effective method of diagnosing cervical cancer, false-negative reports may occur in up to 40% of all tests.
A ‘false negative’ is... where cervical cells that are actually or potentially abnormal or, cancerous are diagnosed as being normal, thereby causing a delay in the discovery of this disease and its treatment.
A ‘false positive’ is... where normal cervical cells are diagnosed as abnormal or cancerous.
As cervical cancers can take up to 10 – 12 years to develop, if abnormal cells are missed during one smear test, they will probably be found on a subsequent test.
Pap smear tests should be taken:
Every 5 years (with HPV test) - between ages 30 and 64.
- If a pap smear result was abnormal, your doctor may advise you to have a HPV test to detect the presence of a virus, which can cause abnormal cervical cells, cervical cancer or genital warts.
First developed in the 1970s, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (computer tomography) are body scanning technologies that, together with ultrasound scans and bone scans, are vital tools in patient diagnosis.
MRI scans – unlike CT scans, MRI scans can be taken from multiple angles to show the detailed definition of all body tissues, both normal and abnormal.
CT scans - provide a cross-section examination of layers of the body to more easily reveal abnormalities at a given depth within the body.
Ultrasound scans - used to determine the exact location of a tumour, for planning radiotherapy and as a guide for biopsies and pain reduction procedures.
Bone scans - involve injecting into the vein a radioactive dye that is absorbed in a greater quantity by an abnormal bone and shows up on the scan as highlighted areas.
The results of an image scan can only be properly acted upon if ‘read’ correctly by an experienced doctor or specialist. It is therefore vital that all scans are examined and reviewed by experts in their field who can correctly interpret the images and advise the patient as to the appropriate next steps and subsequent treatment.
Biopsies can help differentiate between different types of cancer and are usually carried out when a conclusive diagnosis is needed.
Known as an incisional or core biopsy, a small sample of tissue is taken from the target area to be examined under a microscope.
Other types of biopsies...
Every day in the UK, more than 400 people diagnosed with cancer will survive the disease for more than 10 years. (Cancer Research UK)
However, failing to make the correct diagnosis or any diagnosis can allow the cancer to spread, reducing the chance for an effective treatment and shortening life expectancy.
The best possible outcome for surviving cancer is dependent on:
As experienced clinical negligence specialists, we know that you will want to find out why your GP, doctor or hospital failed you or a family member in their duty of care, whether this relates to smear testing, image scan reading or the diagnosis of a biopsy.
We ensure your case is properly investigated and your voice heard in order to bring the hospital, health trust or medical practitioner to account for the harm and suffering they have caused.
Your Legal Friend is committed to ensuring victims of clinical negligence obtain answers and receive appropriate compensation so that their future medical treatment and care needs are properly met.