November marks National Lung Cancer Awareness month and is an important time to get people talking about the condition.
The purpose of the campaign is to encourage people who are displaying symptoms of lung cancer, such as a persistent cough, breathlessness or unexplained weight-loss, to visit their GP.
Recent figures reveal that lung cancer rates for men have fallen by almost 50% in the last 40 years with a decrease in the number of people smoking, but for women the rates are still rising. At present, more than two-thirds of patients are diagnosed with lung cancer at a stage where it is too late for them to be offered treatment that could cure them.
Diagnosing lung cancer earlier makes a big difference to a patient’s chances of survival and therefore raising awareness of symptoms can have a significant impact.
Diagnosis of lung cancer often begins by a patient seeing their GP in connection with their symptoms and being referred to hospital for x-rays or other tests to check for abnormalities within the lungs. If any abnormality is detected, then further tests are usually performed before diagnosis is confirmed.
The stage of cancer confirms the size of the tumour and how far it has spread, and helps the doctor decide on the best form of treatment. The later lung cancer is diagnosed, the more difficult it is to treat and options could be limited.
Sadly, some patients experience delays in diagnosis and/or treatment through no fault of their own but as a direct result of negligent medical treatment.
Wolferstans has successfully represented and secured damages for several clients in previous years whose condition and prognosis have been adversely affected by the failure of medical professionals to correctly act upon common symptoms or abnormal test results.
Our Medical Negligence Department recently settled a claim for damages in the sum of £10,000 where a patient experienced a delay in diagnosis of lung cancer by some 10 months, although the delay in this case did not affect her outcome or treatment.
Our client presented to her GP in May 2013 with sudden onset of left sided chest pain. She was immediately referred for an x-ray and was advised that the x-ray revealed the presence of a shadow or possible scarring on the lung. However, she was duly reassured that it was nothing to be concerned about and she was merely discharged with a course of antibiotics for a suspected chest infection.
Our client continued to experience chest pain and subsequently started to develop breathing difficulties around November 2013.
By April 2014 her wheezing and shortness of breath had progressed to the point that she was admitted to hospital as an emergency, where a further x-ray revealed the presence of metastatic lung cancer.
Our client was informed by her Consultant that on reviewing the original x ray taken in May 2013 the cancer was evident at that time but had not been acted upon.
She underwent surgery and completed a course of chemotherapy but sadly her condition deteriorated further and she was then informed that the cancer had spread to her brain and her prognosis was poor.
Wolferstans investigated the claim and alleged that a failure to inform our client of the possibility of cancer on the x-ray in May 2013 resulted in a delay of diagnosis and treatment by 10 months. It was accepted that, even with earlier diagnosis, the disease would still have been advanced and therefore the delay had not impacted upon her overall prognosis. However, it was accepted that she had experienced a period of unnecessary pain and suffering in the form of breathing difficulties and that she been left severely distressed by the knowledge that there had been a 10 month delay in diagnosis and treatment.
If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence and you would like to receive some free initial legal advice, without obligation, please contact Ann Ball on 01752 292374 or email her at email@example.com