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Teenage Cancer Diagnosis Delays in the UK


Specialist clinical negligence solicitor, Emma Holt from Manchester law firm Pannone LLP says three recent studies have revealed that teenagers with cancer face unacceptable delays in diagnoses due to GPs failing to appreciate the symptoms or hospital staff conducting the wrong scans and tests.

A study at Christie Hospital in Manchester, found that 80% of teenagers attended a medical practitioner within 4 weeks of noticing pain, lump, weight loss or tiredness. Blame for delays in diagnosis cannot be levied at patients as they are seeking medical help at an early stage.

Lack of specific knowledge
Emma Holt said, “Pannone has acted for many individuals, including teenagers, in cases where there has been a delay in diagnosis of cancer. The problem manifests itself in a lack of specific knowledge in medical practitioners, particularly GPs. The studies show that 54% of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma, 59% with brain tumours and 46% with bone tumours visited their GP 4 or more times with symptoms before referral to a specialist was made.”

Cancer is often an under-discussed issue amongst teenagers and young adults, but statistics show that 11% of deaths of 15-24 year olds are caused by cancer. It is vital for GPs and hospital staff to understand the symptoms which young cancer suffers may present with.

Unacceptable Delay
Emma commented further, “Delays in cancer diagnosis of this magnitude are unacceptable. Teenagers and young adults displaying symptoms of cancer are not being referred by their doctor due to a lack of clinical knowledge. Delayed diagnosis leads to delayed treatment, which can have devastating and life threatening consequences.”

Educating the Professionals
Professor Eden from the University of Manchester, author of one of the studies said it is important to educate medical practitioners, a sentiment which is echoed by Ms Holt:
“GPs and other doctors should have the clinical knowledge to know when to refer their patients. If necessary more training should be provided. A lack of clinical knowledge is no excuse for missing a diagnosis.”

If you or a member of your family have any concerns about delays in medical diagnosis, please contact a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Pannone LLP on Freephone 0800 0382 382. For more information please visit


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