Misdiagnosis of Cancer: A Serious and Contemporary Problem

Every year in the UK millions of lives are saved as cancer in all its forms is identified early enough to provide effective treatment.

Whilst progress in this field has undoubtedly been dramatic, too many people are still dying because of misdiagnosis of the disease, and subsequently improper treatment that could amount to clinical negligence.

One sad case of cancer misdiagnosis is that of a grandfather and husband who at the age of 57 first visited his local doctor complaining of unusual grows on his penis. Despite the man’s age and 30 years of happy, faithful marriage, he was referred to a sexual health clinic with the diagnosis of genital warts; an STD, which it was thought would eventually recede. Confused and ashamed by the prognosis, the gentleman hid his symptoms from his wife and took to sleeping in a spare room on the basis of his snoring. It wasn’t until 12 months later, when a second red lump appeared, that the man confided in his wife and subsequently daughter, who urged him to revisit the doctor for a second opinion. He was said to be, by this stage, deeply concerned about his affliction, and his family suggest he might have suspected even then that what had been misdiagnosed as an STD could in fact be something much worse.

In December 2011, after being referred to a urologist, the gentleman finally underwent his first biopsy, which revealed he was in fact suffering from stage 3 cancer of the penis – one stage away from terminal status. Despite the seriousness of his situation owing to the earlier misdiagnosis, the man underwent a partial penectomy and for almost two years was in temporary remission. He underwent regular check-ups while he waited for reconstructive surgery.

Whilst these initial signs seemed positive, specialists warned him that there remained a 50% chance the cancer would return. Some months later in February he was rushed to hospital complaining of severe stomach pains, and whilst a number of gastric tests were undertaken, nothing conclusive was found and he was subsequently discharged. He remained unwell for several months until in June his health declined further and he was forced to cancel reconstructive surgery on his penis. Ultimately, the following September the man was diagnosed with multiple secondary cancers of the brain, lungs, adrenal glands, liver and spine. It is unclear whether or not the initial late diagnosis of cancer or indeed a failure to detect secondary cancers in any of his preceding check-ups would have enabled doctors to save him, but it is generally understood within the medical practice that early diagnosis of cancer improves patient survival chances.

After a battle to raise awareness for the rare cancer condition through the attempted completion of a bucket list, the father of one ultimately succumbed to cancer the following December, leaving behind a family dedicated to bringing more attention to his rare condition. It is hoped that by raising awareness of penile cancer’s symptoms, future victims can avoid misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of cancer and stand a better chance of beating it. This sad story stands as testament to the fact that even with modern medical science at our disposal, misdiagnosis of cancer remains a real problem, costing lives and changing the lives of their loved ones forever.

Are You Concerned About Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer?

Do elements of this story remind you of your own difficulties? If you or a loved one feel you may have suffered / are suffering as a result of clinical negligence relating to the misdiagnosis of cancer or delayed diagnosis of cancer, you can speak to a Blackwater Law Clinical negligence solicitor about the prospect of compensation today.

Phone us on 0800 083 5500, and speak to one of the leading personal injury teams in the UK for free initial advice.