GP negligence leads to early death from hypopharyngeal throat cancer | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

GP negligence leads to early death from hypopharyngeal throat cancer

June sadly died aged 59 from hypopharyngeal cancer. Andrew, her husband, instructed Solicitors to investigate a clinical negligence claim against June's GPs for failure to refer her for investigations earlier.

Mark Bowman and Nilam Patel were instructed by Andrew to take over the conduct of the litigation, as he was unhappy with the service he received from his previous solicitors.

June had developed a sore throat in August and presented to her GP Practice. She was seen by a practice nurse who prescribed her eardrops.

The eardrops did not relieve June's symptoms and she continued to suffer from a sore throat. She attended her GP again a few months later in February and was this time seen by Dr Markham, a GP. Dr Markham prescribed June a nasal spray. In accordance with the NICE Guidelines, oropharyngeal carcinoma should have been one of the differential diagnoses and Dr Markham should have referred June for investigation of head and neck cancer.

The nasal spray did not work in alleviating June's symptoms and she attended the GP again in July. She was seen by Dr Perkins, another GP. Dr Perkins also failed to refer June for investigation of her sore throat  and prescribed her an inhaler for asthma instead. June did not have asthma.

Our case was that June had a persistent sore throat for at least 3 – 4 months and prescribing nasal spray and inhalers was illogical and inappropriate. The NICE Suspected Cancer Referral Guidelines are clear that an urgent referral should be made in patients with an unexplained persistent sore or painful throat.

June, at the end of her tether, took matters in her own hands and insisted on a private referral to an otolaryngologist. She privately underwent a nasendoscopy which revealed a probably malignant epiglottic tumour. June underwent further investigations and was diagnosed with hypopharyngeal cancer.

When June was diagnosed her cancer was stage T4. If she had been referred and diagnosed earlier it would have been at stage T1 or T2 at most and would likely have been curable. June's life expectancy was sadly reduced by 20 to 24 years. Despite undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy she sadly passed away a year after her diagnosis.

Liability remained in dispute, however, Mark and Nilam were able to negotiate a settlement in the sum of £185,000 on behalf of June's Estate for Andrew.

Nilam said "June should never have had to wait and insist for a private referral for cancer investigations. The NICE Guidelines are clear; June should have been referred under the two-week wait cancer pathway for investigations by Dr Perkins and Dr Markham. The cancer should have been treated at an earlier stage whilst it was still likely curable."

Contact us

For further information about GP negligence claims and delayed cancer diagnosis claims, please call Nilam Patel on 03304606801 or email, or Mark Bowman on 03304606794 or email


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.