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Rectal cancer misdiagnosis &
malpractice compensation

Rectal cancer misdiagnosis & malpractice compensation

How much can you claim?

A 45 year old wife and mother died as the result of failure to diagnose and treat a rectal carcinoma. Her family received compensation to the sum of:


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Claiming for rectal cancer negligence

Medical negligence whilst uncommon can have a big impact on your life and wellbeing.

A rectal cancer diagnosis is a terrifying time and the prospect of treatment can often be just as daunting. But for those that have been misdiagnosed or received a level of care that is below standard in the UK, it can be even worse. It’s estimated that up to 10% of cancer cases are initially misdiagnosed and, in such instances, it can place further strain on patients.

Rectal cancer, sometimes referred to as bowel cancer, can often mimic the symptoms of other conditions, leading to misdiagnosed rectal cancer. Delays in diagnosis can have a significant impact on the treatment options available to patients, particularly if the cancer has further developed or spread as a result. But the impact of rectal cancer misdiagnosis can also be emotional and psychological, leaving patients feeling vulnerable and unable to trust those responsible for their care. If you’ve been affected and are looking for answers a failure to diagnose claim may be the solution for you.

A claim can’t undo the experience you have had but it can help you understand what went wrong in your case and why you were let down. If successful, it can also give you financial support during a challenging time, allowing you to take time off work, seek further medical treatment, or alleviate money concerns.

Here at Your Legal Friend, we know that after you’ve suffered, a rectal cancer misdiagnosis bringing a compensation claim can seem daunting. However, we’ll take reduce stress and worry, and we will be on hand to offer you advice and guidance from the very beginning of the process.

Our expert team of cancer misdiagnosis lawyers have a wealth of experience supporting those affected by medical negligence. They understand not only the legal processes but how to help you too.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The time limit on making a rectal cancer claim

If you have been affected by medical negligence it may be possible to make a compensation claim against those responsible. However, you must make a claim within 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’. In rectal cancer cases this is usually the date of diagnosis.

‘Date of knowledge’ can be a confusing term but it simply refers to the point where you first realised that there had been a mistake and you were let down by the people responsible for your care. For some cases, it’s simple to pinpoint this date but in others it can be more complex. Before receiving an accurate diagnosis it’s possible for the misdiagnosis of rectal cancer to occur several times, linking the symptoms to multiple other conditions. If you’re unsure of whether you have a claim, we can help you. Our expert team are available to listen to your experience and better help you understand if your case falls within the 3-year time limit.

You do have up to 3 years to make a claim in Court but we advise that those affected by misdiagnosed rectal cancer or any other form of medical negligence seek professional advice as soon as possible.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

If you’re still undergoing treatment or are recovering, we know that taking on a claims process may be the last thing you want to do. But starting the process sooner can both help your case and you. By starting sooner, the whole process will also be concluded quicker too, giving you access to the compensation you have secured if successful, this can be a weight off your mind if you have financial pressures.

Your case will be supported by a witness statement that you give, detailing your experience. Writing this statement as close to the ‘date of knowledge’ as possible means that you’ll be better able to recall all the details. We will also gather other evidence, such as medical records and scans, and these are often easier to obtain if you seek legal advice soon after you realise you have been affected by negligence.

Throughout your claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way

  • Specialist team of cancer negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • No win, no fee – guaranteed
  • Over 30 years’ experience in personal injury compensation
I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E. Swaffield

Our rectal cancer negligence experience

Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of cancer negligence cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a rectal cancer negligence case.

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our rectal cancer negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high value rectal cancer negligence cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation. Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006. Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan
Director of Medical Negligence

*Our No Win, No Fee agreement

Pay nothing if you lose your case, get maximum compensation if you win

Whatever the nature of your rectal cancer negligence claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard rectal cancer negligence claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

No Win, No Fee Solicitors

Start your claim in 10 minutes

For a FREE, confidential, no-obligation assessment of your claim, simply complete this short form. We aim to call you back within 10 minutes.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The rectal cancer negligence claims process

Step 1 - Obtaining your medical records

We ask you to sign forms of authority so that we can obtain your medical records from your GP and any hospitals that have treated you.

Step 2 - Providing your statement of what happened

As the medical experts we instruct need to know what happened during your treatment, we work with you to draft a detailed, accurate statement in your own words.

Step 3 - Minimising your loss

You are responsible for minimising the losses you have incurred as a result of the alleged medical negligence, so you need to attend any available treatments that could aid your recovery.  You may also need to return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Step 4 - Establishing that a breach of duty occurred

You must prove that the treatment you received fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent and skilful medical specialist of the type who treated you and that, as a result, you suffered a loss or injury. To do this, we obtain independent medical evidence from an expert in the appropriate area of medicine.

Step 5 - Establishing the effect of the breach of duty

We have to establish whether the sub-standard treatment you received is likely to have led to your injury or loss.  As this can be difficult to establish, you may need to see one or more medical experts who will assess your current condition and what the future holds for you.

Step 6 - Calculating the value of your claim

The value of your claim comprises:

  • general damages for the pain, suffering and impact of the negligence on your daily life both now and in the future
  • actual financial losses such as loss of earnings, cost of care, medical and travel expenses.

Step 7 - Proving your loss

You need to keep all original financial documents safe as these will be needed when we prepare your case to go to Court. These documents include accounts, payslips, and receipts for expenses and medical treatments.

Step 8 - Preparing your case for Court

Although only a small number of cases proceed to a trial, we prepare every case for this eventuality.

Step 9 - Attending the trial in Court

The trial takes place before a Circuit or High Court judge who will make a decision based on the evidence we have prepared.

Step 10 - Awarding your compensation claim

If you win your case, the amount of compensation will be decided by negotiation with the defendant or, if your case goes to trial, by the judge. The defendant will usually be ordered to pay us the costs we have incurred in preparing your case. We will also agree a date by which your compensation will be paid to us so that we can pay your compensation as quickly as possible.

Frequently asked questions

Can I claim for rectal cancer misdiagnosis?

If you’ve been affected by rectal cancer misdiagnosis or another form of medical negligence, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. To bring a successful case forward you will need to demonstrate that those responsible for your care failed to provide you with the appropriate standard of care  and that as a result you have had a worse outcome from your treatment.

Misdiagnosed rectal cancer can occur for many reasons, including:

  • A GP failing to notice the symptoms of rectal cancer
  • Your doctor not conducting the necessary examinations during your appointment
  • A failure to refer for further testing despite signs of rectal cancer
  • Test results being read inaccurately
  • A bowel specialist failing to recognise the signs of rectal cancer
  • Abnormalities failing to be followed up
  • An unnecessary delay in referral or treatment

How much compensation will I get?

If you experienced rectal cancer misdiagnosis, we can assess exactly how you have suffered and advise you of the likely compensation, as this is personal to you.  You can claim a sum of money for the additional pain and suffering you have endured and any financial losses such as earnings or extra care and support you have needed because of the negligent treatment.

How long do I have to make a claim?

If you would like to bring  a claim for late rectal cancer diagnosis  you have 3 years to start it in Court. After this 3-year period, it’s not usually possible to bring the claim.

The starting point of the time limit is the ‘date of knowledge’. This term refers to the date that you first realised a mistake had been made in your level of care, this could be when you are accurately diagnosed after being misdiagnosed with another condition, for instance. In some cases, it can be difficult to pinpoint this date and therefore understand the time limit you have to bring a case forward. It you’re unsure, Your Legal Friend is here to help you. Backed by experience working on medical claims our team will be able to assess your personal circumstances and when the ‘date of knowledge’ occurred.  In cancer cases it is usually the date of diagnosis.

While you do have 3 years, we advise all victims of medical negligence to start the process as soon as possible. We know that taking on a misdiagnosed rectal cancer investigation  is often the last thing on your mind but it can help your case to start the process sooner. We’ll use evidence, including a witness statement and medical records, to support your case and obtaining these close to the ‘date of knowledge’ is often easier.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

What causes rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer is caused by cells in the rectum acting abnormally and growing uncontrollably to form masses known as tumours. However, the exact causes of rectal cancer are unknown but research has linked the disease to a number of risk factors that can indicate a person is more likely to develop the cancer.

Around 14,000 people develop rectal cancer each year in the UK, accounting for roughly a third of all bowel cancer cases. According to Cancer Research UK, over half of all bowel cancer cases are preventable through lifestyle changes. Among the risk factors for bowel cancer and rectal cancer are:

  • Age – More than 80% of bowel cancer cases are diagnosed in those aged over 60.
  • Diet – A diet containing a lot of processed or red meat increases the risk of developing bowel cancer. Those that eat two or more portions a day are at the most risk. Research also indicates that not eating enough fruit and vegetables can also increase the risk.
  • Family history – In most cases people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer don’t have a family history of the disease. But having several close family members on the same side of your family diagnosed with the disease can indicate a greater risk, as can a family member being diagnosed when they are under 50. Around 5% of all bowel cancer cases are caused by an inherited faulty gene.
  • Smoking – People that smoke tobacco are more likely to develop bowel cancer.  
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – Having an inflammatory bowel condition, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, may also increase your risk. If you have a condition linked to bowel cancer you may be offered regular screenings.

What are the symptoms of rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer symptoms during the early stages of the disease can often be subtle, gradually worsening as the cancer develops. However, in 90% of bowel cancer cases patients do experience symptoms, signalling that they should visit their GP for further testing. Symptoms of rectal cancer include:

  • Blood in your stools
  • A change in your bowel habits that happens for no obvious reason and is persistent
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in the abdomen or back passage
  • Feeling as though you haven’t emptied your bowel properly after a bowel movement
  • Unexplained tiredness

In some cases, the cancer can cause an obstruction in the bowel. An obstruction in the bowel can cause other symptoms, such as constipation, vomiting, and gripping pain in the abdomen.

How is rectal cancer diagnosed?

When you first visit your GP with concerns about your health and the signs of rectal cancer they will usually carry out a digital rectal examination and examine your abdomen. They may also conduct a blood test to see if you have an iron deficiency, although a lack of iron doesn’t always indicate rectal cancer.

It your symptoms suggest you may have rectal cancer, your GP should refer you to a hospital for further testing by a bowel specialist. The main test used to diagnose rectal cancer is a colonoscopy. This involves a medical professional using a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end to examine the inside of the bowel. Other tests that may be conducted include a sigmoidoscopy, which looks inside the rectum, and a CT scan.

Rectal cancer is more likely to be treatable if it’s detected during the early stages, before symptoms appear. The NHS operates a bowel cancer screening programme to detect cancer during the initial stage. All men and women aged between 60 and 74 are sent a home test kit to highlight potentially cancerous cells that return an abnormal result, indicating that further testing should be conducted.

After diagnosis, it’s likely that further testing will also be needed to assess the size and position of the cancer and find out if it has spread to other areas of the body. Staging and grading cancer is an important step as it can affect the treatment options that the team responsible for your care recommend. These tests could include:

  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • PET scan
  • Blood tests for a protein called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)

Can rectal cancer be misdiagnosed?

It is possible for rectal cancer misdiagnosis to occur. The symptoms of rectal cancer can be similar to many other conditions, leading to doctors dismissing the signs or linking them to other causes. An accurate and quick diagnosis often relies on a GP spotting the initial signs and ordering follow up tests to highlight any abnormalities. Where this hasn’t occurred, it is possible for a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis to happen.

Conditions it’s possible for rectal cancer to be misdiagnosed as include:

  • Diverticulitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Haemorrhoids
For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

How is rectal cancer treated?

All patients that are diagnosed with bowel cancer are treated by a multidisciplinary team, which is made up of specialists in different areas. Each individual’s treatment plan is created with their circumstances in mind, such as their general health or whether the cancer has developed. The team responsible for your care will talk you through the different options and make recommendations but the final decision on which treatment you will undergo will remain with you.

Treatment for rectal cancer typically involves one or a combination of the following:

  • Surgery

An operation to remove the cancerous tumour is the most common form of treatment for rectal cancer. An operation called a total mesorectal excision (TME) is the most common type of surgery carried out and involves removing part or all the rectum. The extent of the TME will depend on the size of the cancer. Following surgery some people have to wear a stoma temporarily and in rare cases may need to wear one permanently.

  • Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs are used to kill cancerous cells and can be given through an injection, tablets, or capsules. This treatment option is often given in conjunction with radiotherapy to provide a complete solution or after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

  • Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to treat cancer by destroying the cells. It can also be used to relieve the symptoms of rectal cancer when a cure isn’t possible.

  • Biological therapies

Biological therapies, also known as targeted therapies, are anti-cancer medicines that affect processes within cancerous cells, preventing them from growing. These drugs can be given into a vein through an infusion or tablets and may be offered alongside chemotherapy.

What are the different types of rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer is a form of bowel cancer and there are many different types depending on which cells the cancer started in. The type of rectal cancer you are diagnosed with can have an impact on the treatment options that are recommended to you. The most common type of bowel cancer is adenocarcinoma, which starts in the gland cells in the lining of the bowel.

Other types of bowel cancers are rarer but include:

  • Squamous cell tumours – Those starting in the skin cells that make up the bowel lining
  • Carcinoid tumours – A slow growing type of cancer that grows in the body’s hormone producing tissue
  • Sarcomas – In the bowel sarcomas start in the smooth muscle
  • Lymphomas – Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system.

What is the rectal cancer survival rate?

Across all types of bowel cancers, including rectal cancer, 57% of patients outlive their diagnosis for 10 years or more. In the UK, there are around 41,000 new cases of bowel cancer each year, with around a third of these being rectal cancer, and 15,900 deaths as a result of the disease.

The bowel cancer survival rate is improving, when compared to 40 years ago, the figure has more than doubled in the UK. Around three-quarters of those diagnosed will survive their disease by more than a year and almost 6 in 10 do so for more than a decade. Survival rates are highest among younger people and those aged between 60 and 69, thanks to a screening programme that picks up the disease in the early stages.

The stage at which bowel cancer is diagnosed is also important for survival rates. When diagnosed at the earliest stage over 90% of patients will survive their disease for five years or more, while less than 1 in 10 people do when diagnosed at the latest stage.