Liver cancer misdiagnosis: how can I make a claim?

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Terry Regan

Director and Head of Medical and Clinical Negligence

With instances of liver cancer becoming more prevalent, being aware of this type of cancer has never been more important. Over the past decade, rates of liver cancer in the UK have risen by 45%, and early intervention and cancer treatment are essential to combat this disease effectively. However, liver cancer misdiagnosis can delay treatment and recovery, with potentially life-changing consequences.

Here, we take a closer look at the common symptoms of liver cancer and how it can be misdiagnosed as other ailments. We will also explore the impact this can have on your life and who is responsible. Finally, we will explain your options when it comes to making a clinical negligence claim or medical malpractice claim, and how the qualified medical negligence solicitors at Wake Smith can help.

What are the most common symptoms of liver cancer?

Liver cancer has several common symptoms. These can be as simple as losing your appetite for a period of time for no discernible reason or feeling more tired than usual.

You may feel as though you are suffering from the flu, with physical weakness and a general sense of being unwell. Less general symptoms can include unexplained itching or a lump in your abdomen. This lump will be on the right side of the abdomen, below your ribcage. The lump could be painful, but this isn't always the case.

You may also suffer from jaundice, which is when your skin and the whites of your eyes appear yellow. In the case of liver cancer, jaundice is caused by the cancer impacting how your liver would usually function.

What can liver cancer often be misdiagnosed as?

Because a number of medical conditions share the same symptoms of liver cancer, it can be incorrectly diagnosed as other issues. For example, a doctor may think that your symptoms are the result of fatty liver, such as stomach pain and feeling weak or tired. You may also be misdiagnosed with hepatic haemangioma, which is when a mass found on the liver consists of blood vessels becoming tangled, rather than a tumour.

Other misdiagnoses can include liver abscesses, as this causes pain in the right side of your upper abdomen, loss of appetite, and flu-like symptoms. Moses syndrome or Gilbert's syndrome may be suspected if your main symptom is jaundice, as this is a genetic disorder which causes higher levels of bilirubin in your blood, resulting in a yellowish tinge.

If you have been misdiagnosed with any of the aforementioned conditions, but your liver cancer was ignored, you should consult a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible to discuss potential compensation.

What impact can liver cancer misdiagnosis have?

Being misdiagnosed when suffering from liver cancer can be extremely detrimental to your treatment and quality of life. Finding a correct diagnosis and treatment will be delayed until you seek a second opinion or undergo further tests, which can be challenging to access when you have already been diagnosed. Seeking out further advice can lead to mounting medical expenses and time taken away from work.

When misdiagnosed, you will not be receiving the right treatment, and this can mean your cancer may grow, advance in stage, and spread to other parts of your body. This can, in turn, reduce your chances of survival and result in more aggressive and lengthy treatment options being necessary.

In the worst cases, you may need to undergo transplants, and a missed instance of liver cancer can ultimately be responsible for premature or wrongful death. If you have recently had your liver cancer misdiagnosed, or a loved one has recently passed away after an incorrect or delayed diagnosis, you can get in touch with our lawyers here to discuss your claim.

Who is responsible for liver cancer misdiagnosis, and how does misdiagnosis occur?

If you have been misdiagnosed, it can be easy to blame yourself, but there are other parties responsible for such a lapse in care. Your doctors, both general and specialist, have a duty of care that may not have been upheld.

Any medical professional involved in your care and treatment, such as consultants and physicians who misdiagnose liver cancer, can be responsible for this. Responsibility is placed when the incorrect diagnosis is the result of misread test results, not sending you for the correct tests or treatment options, or not requesting a biopsy that would have revealed an accurate diagnosis.

Delays are also viewed as negligent in some cases. If you raised concerns with a medical practitioner and they did not pursue testing, they may be at fault in this case.

How can I make a claim for liver cancer misdiagnosis?

A medical misdiagnosis is always challenging and can seriously harm your quality of life. If you or your loved one has been the victim of a liver cancer misdiagnosis, making a medical negligence claim can be one way to address this. Making a successful cancer negligence compensation claim relies on following the correct channels and providing evidence.

How can Wake Smith help?

When seeking to pursue a medical negligence claim, it is essential to have the right support and advice. At Wake Smith, our qualified and experienced medical and clinical negligence solicitors can help you with everything from collecting evidence to advising you on the likely outcome of your claim. We will also liaise with the other party on your behalf.

In many cases, the claim will be settled out of court if the medical body in question admits liability. However, if you do need to pursue further legal proceedings, Wake Smith will also represent you at this point. Get in touch with us via our contact form to discuss your cancer compensation claim before deciding how to move forward.

Common queries

How long do I have to make a liver cancer misdiagnosis claim?

When you are seeking to make a claim for a liver cancer misdiagnosis, you have up to three years from the day that you were made aware that you had been misdiagnosed.

How much can I claim for liver cancer misdiagnosis?

When making a liver cancer misdiagnosis claim, the amount of compensation you receive will depend on the extent of the harm caused by medical negligence. You may be claiming for medical expenses, loss of income due to you not being able to work, receiving a worse prognosis due to delays in treatment, or psychological harm, among other considerations.

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About the author

Director and Head of Medical and Clinical Negligence

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