Delay in Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

February 21, 2018

There have been a number of news stories recently about Ovarian Cancer, known as the silent killer, (see links below) but of course none of those address what happens when you report symptoms to your GP and a mistake is made in the diagnosis of your condition.  As reported by BBC News, approximately 66% of cases are not diagnosed early enough because symptoms are not reported to their doctor.  Once the disease has spread it is much harder to treat and therefore early diagnosis is key.  Add a further delay once symptoms are actually reported, and there could be extremely serious consequences with a much poorer outcome.

Some GPs are simply not aware enough of the early symptoms of Ovarian Cancer such that it is common for a misdiagnosis to be made initially.  Examples of misdiagnosis are IBS, diverticulitis, menopause, urinary infection etc.

There have been a number of reported cases where a delay in diagnosis has occurred:-

  • In X v King’s College Hospital NHS Trust 2011 there was a delay in diagnosis of 1 year and 2 months and unfortunately despite treatment the Claimant died leaving an 18 month son behind.  An award of £600,000 was agreed in that case.
  • In Borson v D S Sharp & Christie Hospital NHS Trust 2004 there was a delay between 1995 and 1998 in diagnosing Ovarian Cancer.  The Claimant was given treatment, but sadly died 4 years after her diagnosis was made.  An award of £120,000 was agreed.
  • In X v Y Health Authority 1999 there was a late diagnosis which resulted in a significant increase in the risk of the cancer recurring.  An award of £750,000 was agreed.

Even where early diagnosis has been made, treatment usually involves surgery (optimal debulking surgery) to take away as much as the tumour as possible.  Where the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries chemotherapy is likely to be used as well as surgery. 

In any medical negligence case there are two elements which need to be established.  The first is that there has been a breach of duty.  If your condition was mis-diagnosed or should have been diagnosed earlier, this will be considered to have been a breach of duty.  The second element is what is known as causation.  Simply put, this means that as a result of the breach of duty that has occurred you have a poorer outcome, experienced additional pain and suffering, or had additional treatment that would not have otherwise been required.

Here at Metcalfes we have a team of highly experienced medical negligence lawyers who can advise you on your potential claim.  We deal with all areas of medical negligence, not just in cases where there has been a delay or mis-diagnosis of cancer.  

If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical negligence call us on 0117 239 8012.  Alternatively, you can use our online form and we will be happy to contact you at your convenience.


Ovarian Cancer can be passed on via fathers - and it strikes younger

Ovarian Cancer: persistent tummy bloating can be sign

Many women are changing their diets rather than visiting their GP

Further Reading:-


Website content note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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Delay in Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

Gillian Clark

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