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Paul McNeil, Head of Personal Injury and Medical Negligence
Patients with renal cancer tend to present to their GP with pain in the loins or blood in the urine. Other symptoms include unexplained fevers, joint pains varicocele or anaemic symptoms. Advanced disease may also present with weight loss. If a GP suspects renal cancer he should refer the patient to a urologist.
The urologist should take a history, conduct and examination and organise investigations to include: full blood count, liver and renal function tests and a chest x-ray. A CT scan of the abdomen and thorax will confirm whether or not the tumour is operable.
Delays in Diagnosis
Treatment depends on whether the tumour is operable. If it is operable surgery is performed, without any adjuvant therapy. In metastatic cancer, the most effective treatment is immunotherapy.
The prognosis for metastatic renal cancer is very poor. To succeed in a medical negligence claim you need to prove that the delay affected the outcome. Usually this means you need to prove that during the delay the cancer progressed to a more advanced stage. Therefore, delays of a few months are unlikely to be enough. However if cancer is left, it is likely to grow and can spread to other parts of the body. Mistakes in diagnosing kidney cancer can therefore be very serious. Claims may be brought for:
- Failure to take an accurate history
- Failure to refer a patient to a urologist for further investigation
- Mistakes in interpreting the investigations
- Mistaken diagnosis of cancer of renal cancer
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