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Delayed Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

Cancer needs to be diagnosed and treated promptly to achieve the best outcome for a patient’s health.

Where treatment is delayed for any reason, it can have a very negative impact on a patient’s health, wellbeing, career and personal life, as well as their loved ones. If a delayed cancer diagnosis is caused by medical negligence (also sometimes referred to as ‘clinical negligence’), a claim may be possible for those affected.

Where someone has experienced a late cancer diagnosis, our team can advise.

What constitutes delayed cancer treatment?

Delays in cancer treatment may be considered negligent where:

  1. A patient was owed a duty of care by a clinical professional.
  2. That duty of care was breached, resulting in delays in appropriate cancer treatment being started.
  3. The errors made resulted in a worse outcome for the patient’s health.

Examples of potential negligent delays in cancer treatment include where:

  • Symptoms that should have been recognised as indicative of cancer were missed
  • A patient was not referred for testing when they should have been
  • Test results were lost, misplaced or misinterpreted, leading to a delayed diagnosis
  • After cancer was diagnosed, appropriate treatment was not started promptly and there was no good reason for this delay

Types of clinical professionals it may be possible to pursue a delayed cancer treatment claim against include GPs, oncologists and surgeons.

What might a delayed cancer treatment claim cover?

Delayed cancer treatment claims can potentially cover specific financial costs such as paying for medical treatment, rehabilitation services, care support and specialist equipment, as well as lost income.

It may also be possible to claim for the non-financial impact of a delayed cancer diagnosis, such as pain and suffering and loss of amenity (i.e. not being able to carry out activities the claimant previously enjoyed).

How long does it take to claim for delayed diagnosis of cancer?

Claiming for a delayed cancer diagnosis can be complex and require significant input from a wide range of medical professionals. As a result, it can often take 2 years or more for a claim to be completed.

Other factors that will determine the length of the claim are the severity of the patient’s condition, the length of their recovery and whether the other party accepts liability.

What is the time limit for a delayed cancer treatment claim?

There is a two-year time limit for most types of medical negligence claims, so it is important to keep this in mind when considering pursuing a claim for delayed cancer treatment.

Speak to an expert medical negligence solicitor in Dublin

To find out more about delayed cancer treatment claims, please contact our friendly, expert team today.

Our expertise with cancer negligence claims in Ireland

For 35 years, our medical negligence solicitors in Dublin have helped clients to claim for a wide range of medical errors and injures, including for delayed cancer treatment.

Handling late cancer diagnosis claims effectively from start to finish, we ensure no detail is overlooked and that clients understand what is happening and what to expect at every stage of the claims process.

We will always be realistic about the likelihood of success when claiming for a delay in the diagnosis of cancer, so potential claimants can make an informed decision about whether they wish to pursue a claim.

Lavelle Partners was named Medical Negligence Team of the Year at the Irish Law Awards 2022.

Head of Medical Negligence Avril Scally has over 18 years’ experience dealing with a wide range of claims for clients all over Ireland and is a member of AVMA (Action Against Medical Accident) and APIL (the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers).

As well as helping with the legal side of pursuing a medical negligence claim, our team can also assist with accessing specialist care and rehabilitation services.

Our medical negligence solicitors can assist with all types of delayed cancer treatment claims, including those related to:

Our experience includes claims where someone has died due to negligent cancer treatment delays.

How delayed cancer treatment claims work

Establishing that cancer treatment was delayed due to medical negligence

When it comes to cancer misdiagnosis, medical negligence is a possible cause. But before making a claim for any type of medical negligence, it is first necessary to obtain a report from an appropriate qualified medical expert to confirm that the medical care you received fell below acceptable standards.

To have grounds for a valid claim for delayed cancer diagnosis, this report will need to show that both of the following apply:

A breach of duty of care – i.e. that the clinical staff responsible for a patient’s treatment owed them a duty of care and that this was breached as a result of mistakes made that no competent health professional would have made under the same circumstances.

Harm suffered due to that breached duty of care – i.e. that the patient experienced a worse outcome for their health due to the clinician’s errors.

It must be shown on ‘the balance of probability’ that the worse outcome was caused by clinical errors. This means there must be at least a 50% chance that the clinician was responsible for the harm a patient suffered.

Out-of-court settlements

Many medical negligence claims are settled voluntarily out of court between legal teams representing the patient and the clinician or healthcare provider responsible for a claimant’s injuries. This can make the claims process faster and involve lower legal fees.

Taking a cancer negligence claim to court

Where a settlement is not possible, a medical negligence claim may need to be pursued through the courts. In such cases, it is important for claimants to have effective representation to ensure their case is built and presented in the strongest possible way.

Interim Payments

In cases where there has been a late cancer diagnosis, the patient may be entitled to interim payments. Where a patient needs immediate financial support, it may be possible to secure an advance payment from the defendant while a claim is still ongoing.

This can be used to cover costs such as fees for medical treatment, rehabilitation care and other essential support.

Fatal cancer negligence claims

Where someone has died due to negligent cancer treatment delays, an appointed personal representative of the deceased may be able to make a claim under the terms of the Civil Liability Act, 1961, Part 4. They will have two years from the date of death to do so.

In the event that a personal representative is not appointed within six months of the date of death, anyone who was a dependant of the deceased at the time of their death can potentially pursue a claim within the time limit.

Find out more about fatal medical negligence claims.

Time limits for delayed cancer treatment claims

Under normal circumstances, patients have two years to claim for delayed cancer treatment due to medical negligence. However, there are some limited circumstances where patients or their loved ones may have longer to claim.

The date of knowledge

The two-year time limit will be counted from the ‘date of knowledge’. This is the date when the claimant was first aware of the following key points:

  1. That they/their loved one has been injured.
  2. That the injury was significant.
  3. That the injury was caused by negligent medical treatment.
  4. The identity of the person responsible for the injury.

The date of knowledge can sometimes be weeks, months or even years after the injuries occur.

Exceptions to the standard two-year time limit for delayed cancer treatment claims

Situations where the time limit may be different include:

  • Where the claimant was under 18 when the negligence occurred – the two-year time limit will be counted from their 18th
  • Where the claimant is deemed to lack the mental capacity to pursue a claim themselves – there is normally no time limit for someone else to make a claim on their behalf.
  • Where someone has died as a result of delayed cancer treatment – a representative of their estate will have two years to bring a claim from the date of death.

Our delayed cancer treatment claims pricing

The exact fees for pursuing a delayed cancer treatment claim will depend on the circumstances. Factors that may affect these costs include whether the claim can be resolved with an out-of-court settlement or whether court proceedings are required.

Our team will discuss costs and funding options during clients’ initial consultation.

Recent cases

Lavelle Partners obtain significant settlement for a woman who received a misdiagnosis as part of the CervicalCheck service


Please get in touch with one of our specialists