Case study: £450k for delayed rectal cancer diagnosis

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Our medical negligence solicitors acted on behalf of Mr B who received a delayed diagnosis of rectal cancer, which led to metastatic disease in his lungs and liver.

Visits to the GP with bowel problems

Mr B noticed he was passing blood in his stools and was constipated, which his GP treated as haemorrhoids.

Over the next two years, our client saw his GP on 12 further occasions as the treatment prescribed was not improving his condition. Multiple examinations were carried out and the GP continued to diagnose internal haemorrhoids.

Mr B then developed abdominal pain and diarrhoea, which was aggravated when he ate. His GP attributed this to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Mr B was concerned when he lost a stone in weight but he was assured by his GP that there was nothing to worry about.

Colonoscopy confirms rectal cancer

Towards the end of 2016, when Mr B complained of rectal pain, his GP finally referred him for a colonoscopy. A sigmoidoscopy and biopsy were carried out and it was confirmed that he had rectal cancer.

Our client underwent an ELAPE procedure and the formation of a permanent colostomy. He had 24 lymph nodes removed and cancer was found in one of the resected nodes. Cancer cells were also found in the blood vessels around the tumour.

Mr B also underwent chemotherapy. Sadly, three years later he developed metastatic disease in his lungs and liver. The two lesions in his liver were removed successfully and he underwent radiotherapy to his lungs. Unfortunately, the liver lesions returned and the lung lesions were never completely eradicated with radiotherapy. Mr B’s treatment is ongoing.

The claim for delayed diagnosis

Mr B instructed our expert medical negligence solicitors to help determine whether the GP was in breach of duty regarding the treatment he received and whether the tumour should have been identified earlier.

Our team sought opinions from experts, including a GP, who identified 12 breaches of duty, although not all of these affected his claim as they were too late to make any difference to the outcome.

However, it was identified that Mr B’s GP failed to carry out a rectal exam in 2014 and to make a two-week referral for our client. The GP failed again in 2015 when he incorrectly diagnosed internal haemorrhoids after a rectal examination. Both of these breaches of duty led to the avoidable spread of Mr B’s cancer.

Oncology and surgical experts confirmed that, had a referral been made in 2014 or early 2015, Mr B would have undergone resection of the tumour with no need for the ELAPE procedure. A temporary stoma would have been necessary but this would have been reversed after six months. Mr B would have avoided chemotherapy and the development of all metastatic disease. He would have avoided the need for liver surgery and radiotherapy and his life expectancy would not have been reduced.

Settlement

The Defendant admitted both breaches of duty and causation and apologised for failing to refer Mr B following his examination in 2015. It was proven that Mr B would have been cured of his cancer and subsequent illness had this negligence not occurred.

The claim was settled out of court in 2021 for £450,000.

Further information

If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of a delayed cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis, our medical negligence solicitors are here to help.

Call us on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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