Cancer misdiagnosis is when signs of cancer are attributed to something non-cancerous.
For example blood in urine in someone who is over 45 will normally trigger a two week wait cancer referral where there is unexplained visible blood in urine haematuria without urinary tract infection or visible haematuria that persists or recurs after successful treatment of urinary tract infection.
Once referred there is a working assumption that you will have cancer until bladder or kidney cancer has been excluded. This means you would be referred for a cystoscopy to check the bladder and even if that is clear the kidneys would be investigated for cancer as well.
An examining doctor may put your cancer signs down to another condition and not refer you for further tests or expert medical treatment.
So if you have blood in your urine and have a urinary tract infection your GP may not refer you immediately but if the blood persists then the safety net means you should be referred.
As a result of a cancer misdiagnosis, you are not referred for the correct treatment. In the UK all suspected cancer cases meeting the guidelines should go on an urgent, two-week wait list for a cancer consultant appointment.
Cancer misdiagnosis claims should be rare as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence produces detailed guidelines for GPs for each type of cancer. A GP should never deviate from these guidelines otherwise they could face a cancer misdiagnosis claim.
A cancer misdiagnosis means an unnecessary delay in the correct diagnosis, and treatment, of your cancer.
By the time you get to see the correct diagnosis, your cancer may be well advanced or spread.
Using the example of kidney cancer or renal cancer if your cancer is caught early and you are referred appropriately then the common treatment would be to remove all or part of the affected kidney before it has spread or invaded the arteries which can cause a more rapid spread.
If the cancer was negligently allowed to spread because of a cancer misdiagnosis then you would have a cancer misdiagnosis claim. You may have to undergo chemotherapy which would otherwise have been avoided but for the negligent delay in diagnosis.