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Lung cancer missed for two years

Lung cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in the UK. If diagnosed early, around 57% will survive for 5 years or more. The survival rate reduces to only 3% if the disease is in the later stages when it is diagnosed.

Matthew Gascoyne, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at Atherton Godfrey,  recently dealt with a case that illustrated the importance of early diagnosis.

Towards the end of 2016, his client, Mr B went to see his GP suffering from of a persistent cough. When anti-biotics didn’t improve his symptoms, the GP referred Mr B to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.

There, Mr B had an x-ray that showed a shadow on his left lung and he was referred for an MRI and CT scan. Doctors were unconcerned. They told him that the shadow was likely due to his chest infection and no further investigations were needed.

Over the following months, his cough worsened, and he now had upper back pain. In the summer of 2018, Mr B went back to his GP. Again, he was prescribed antibiotics and referred for a further chest x-ray, this time he was sent to Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.

The x-ray and subsequent MRI and CT scan showed changes in his left lung, which were a cause for concern. Further tests were carried out, and in December 2018, Mr B was given the devastating news that he had lung cancer. Tragically, it had now spread to his lymph nodes and his condition was terminal.

A review of the imaging from his first hospital visit confirmed that cancer had been present, but he was told that earlier treatment would not have made any difference. Mr B disputed this. He believed that earlier diagnosis would have given him a different outcome and he started a medical negligence claim.

Matthew commented on the case: “This was a particularly tragic matter. We had concluded investigations and obtained expert evidence which fully supported Mr B’s claim.

“Although the cancer had been visible on the first scans, it was not diagnosed until the second scans two years later. By this time, the tumour had grown to the stage where it was causing increased discomfort, coughing and shortness of breath and the opportunity to undergo surgery was lost.

“Sadly, Mr B didn’t get to see the justice he deserved as he passed away from an unrelated condition, before his claim could be concluded.”

In cases such as these, it is quite usual for a family member to take over the case. Mr Bs daughter agreed to continue the claim and Matthew was able to recover £55,000 for the estate.

If you or a family member have been affected by a missed diagnosis, or any kind of medical negligence, call and have a confidential chat about your options. Our team can be reached on 01302 320621 or email info@athertongodfrey.co.uk 

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Cancer sufferer in bid to sue tobacco giant

A former salesman is planning to sue the employer who gave him over a thousand free cigarettes a month, after being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

Simon Neale, 57, was given 1,200 cigarettes every month throughout his employment with Rothmans, that he could either use himself or give away.

When he started the job in 1982, Mr Neale was only a light smoker. However, by the time he left four years later, he was a regular and heavy smoker who often had as many as 30,000 cigarettes in his car boot.

Rothmans merged with British American Tobacco (BAT) in 1999. Lawyers are now considering legal action against BAT on behalf of Mr Neale and other former employees in the same position.

Mr Neale quit smoking after he was diagnosed with lung cancer towards the end of 2018. He said: “It’s staggering looking back on it, but I was told when I joined the company that I’d be getting 1,200 free cigarettes a month.

Working at Rothmans, I went from being an occasional smoker, a social smoker, to being a heavy smoker because I had so many cigarettes given to me.

Last autumn, I was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and it knocked me for six. The worst thing was telling the children. The lung cancer has all come about from me working for Rothmans.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), commented: “Simon Neale is not the only one. Many thousands of employees were given free cigarettes and free cigarettes were also doled out to the public.

Big Tobacco promoted its products while hiding from the public, and its own employees, its own evidence that smoking was heavily addictive.

We’d encourage anyone now suffering serious smoking-related disease who took up smoking before the 1990s to come forward and tell us their story. Big Tobacco must be called to account.”

In response, Simon Cleverly, group head of corporate affairs at BAT, said: “Historically BAT employees had the option to receive a monthly allowance of cigarettes.

At all times, these products complied with all applicable laws and regulations, including the relevant health warnings.”

Lawyers working for Mr Neale said they believed giving out `highly addictive cigarettes, was a flagrant breach of an employer’s duty of care’.