Cancer (delay in diagnosis and treatment)

Cancer claims are amongst the most challenging claims handled.

Claims commonly arise when there has been a delay in appropriate investigation and hence identification of the patient’s cancer. Claims often allege that the resulting delay has caused harm (in some cases with tragic consequences) both through a delay in commencement of treatment to counter the cancer and also through the cancer’s progression in the period before such treatment is begun.

To bring a claim it is not necessary that the cancer has already recurred. Claims have (and can) be brought on the basis that because of the delay in treatment and consequent progress of their cancer, the patient has an increased chance of recurrence, even though this has not yet occurred.

Although not always the case, cancer claims often relate to care provided by GPs, radiologists and pathology services. There are, for example, well established principles a general practitioner should follow with a patient presenting with breast lumps, the so called ‘triple test’ etc.  Similar standard practices exist in relation to many other types of cancer, including skin cancers (melanoma, SCC, BCC), prostate cancer, bowel cancer, ovarian and cervical cancer.

Unfortunately claims also have arisen in relation to treatment once cancer is identified, both as to the form and manner of treatment provided.

Through our experience in such claims we have established contacts with independent GPs, radiologists, surgeons and oncologists able to assist in handling such claims and gathering appropriate evidence as to the quality of the care provided, how the position would have altered had earlier intervention occurred etc.

In the most tragic of such cases, when a client has only a relatively short period to live, these contacts and knowledge of the key questions to focus upon, allows us to expedite claims appropriately.

Below are descriptions of some of the types of cancer case we have pursued in the past and are handling at present:

  • Failure to investigate loss of taste sensation (lung cancer)
  • Failure to arrange ultrasound investigation of testicular lump
  • Failure to arrange triple test assessment of breast lump (repeated..)
  • Failure to inform patients of radiological recommendations of further investigation of clinically suspicous breast lump
  • Failure to recommend core biopsy of breast lump
  • Failure to investigate raised PSA
  • Negligent performance of pathology analysis re endometrial cancer
  • Failure to appropriately investigate abnormal rectal bleeding
  • Failure to properly surgically excise thyroid cancer
  • Failure to complete appropriate post-surgical imaging to ensure complete removal of brain tumour
  • Negligent administration of chemotherapy drugs
  • Failure to diagnose and treat cancer of the nasal septum
  • Failure to diagnose and treat cancer of the floor of the mouth
  • Radiation therapy to the wrong eye
  • Delay in diagnosis of bowel cancer
  • Negligent failure to correctly perform colonoscopy, resulting in delay in diagnosis of rectal cancer
  • Negligent misread of pap smear
  • GP surgery’s failure to contact patient to inform of presence of breast cancer on FNA

About Julian Johnson

Renowned as Perth’s leading medical negligence lawyer, Julian Johnson is the founder and principal of Julian Johnson Lawyers. He graduated in Law from the University of Western Australia in 1988 and became a partner at Ilbery Barblett and O’Dea, before establishing his own firm in 2001. Julian is dedicated to assisting those who have suffered from inadequate medical care. He is recognised as a leading national lawyer in medical negligence by Doyle’s Guide.

We understand that often deciding to investigate a claim is a very big first step to take. Most people are frightened of or at least apprehensive of the legal system, lawyers, or at the thought of ‘taking on’ a doctor, hospital or ‘the medical profession.’

To make it as easy as possible, just fill out the form and we will contact you to let you know whether we think investigating a claim is something you should think about. There’s no obligation and no fee involved..

If you’d prefer we can even just send you an email answering your question (if it is simple enough!) or pointing you in the right direction.

If we think a claim is worth investigating, we’ll arrange to meet for a coffee and a chat.

If you want, go ahead and let us help you with the first step.

You can also contact us directly:



64 Churchill Avenue,