What Is Lymphoma?
Lymphatic cancer, or lymphoma, is a type of cancer which begins in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are shuttled around the body in a substance called lymph. The network of vessels which transport these cells is known as the ‘lymphatic system’, and contain a number of lymph nodes which filter the lymphocytes flowing through them. Like other cancers, lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes are in a state of uncontrolled cell growth and multiplication, and collect in lymph nodes or tissues such as the spleen or tonsils, forming a tumour.
Lymphatic cancer typically occurs in two forms – Hodgkins or non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which can only be accurately distinguished by a biopsy during diagnosis. If the specialist encounters a particular type of cell known as a Reed-Sternberg cell, the cancer is Hodgkin’s. Hodgkins disease is the rarer type of cancer, occurring when a particular type of lymphocyte known as B-lymphocytes multiply and gather in the lymph nodes (glands). Non-hodgkins lymphoma – far more common and accounting for around 80% of all cases – is an age-related condition which may affect either B-lymphocytes or T-lymphocytes. In both types, lymphocytes which have been affected lose their protective properties to fight infection, making sufferers vulnerable to other diseases.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lymphoma?
The most common symptom of both Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins lymphoma is a painless swelling in a lymph node, usually in the neck, armpit or groin. Other symptoms of lymphoma will usually only begin once the cancer has spread through most, or all, of the lymphatic system, causing it to cease normal function -weakening the body’s immune response.
Other advanced lymphoma cancer symptoms of either type include:
- unexplained fatigue or drowsiness
- unexplained bodily itching
- unexplained loss of appetite and/or weight loss
- night sweats or fever
- trouble getting rid of infections
If a GP should spot these symptoms occurring in a patient, it is their responsibility to refer them to a specialist for diagnosis, as a combination of them will strongly suggest presence of the disease. Unfortunately, lymphoma is a rare condition and there have been frequent cases of misdiagnosis for other conditions of lesser severity. Where this has occurred, a claim for medical malpractice may be built.
How Should Lymphoma Be Diagnosed?
When symptoms are identified which may suggest the presence of lymphatic cancer, the patient must be immediately referred to a specialist to carry out a biopsy – the removal of some or all of an affected lymph node – under local or general anaesthetic. A pathologist will then study the tissue sample for diseased cells and, dependent on the type of cell discovered, will be able to diagnose either Hodgkins or non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
When lymphatic cancer has been confirmed through biopsy, further testing should then be conducted to check the extent of the lymphoma’s spread, which will allow a doctor to advise on the stage of the cancer. Further tests may include blood tests, bone marrow sampling, chest X-ray, CT, MRI or PET scans, and lumbar punctures. Following a combination of the above, a lymphoma prognosis may be provided.
How Should Lymphoma Be Treated?
As with all cancers, treatment for lymphatic cancer is usually provided by a multi-disciplinary team of specialists. In the case of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, treatment may not be initially required – if the cancer was particularly small, as is sometimes the case with T-lymphocytes tumours, it may be removed completely within the initial biopsy. However, in most cases a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy or chemotherapy alone will be recommended by the team of advisors, which may be combined with steroid medication.Although most cases of lymphatic cancer treatment are successful and eventually cure the condition, the treatments provided can cause tremendous strain upon the body and medical professionals should advise the patient on these realities. The patient should not be rushed into making a decision, and should be allowed time to confer with friends, family, and partner. Where adequate warnings of surgical risks or sufficient time to reach an informed decision have not been provided, a medical negligence claim may be built.
How Do I Know If I Can Make A Lymphoma Misdiagnosis Claim?
If a GP or specialist fails to diagnose or correctly treat lymphoma, causing undue suffering to the patient, this may warrant a claim for medical negligence compensation.
There are several circumstances which might lead to a clinical negligence claim as a result of a lymphatic cancer:
Firstly, there may be a delay in diagnosis of the lump as a tumour, which may result from a GP failing to pick up on signs and symptoms which should have led to further investigations. For a claim to be successful, it is necessary to show that the delay has resulted in a worse outcome – as is often the case with lymphatic tumours left unchecked. Delays are particularly significant when dealing with lymphoma as often the size of the tumour and the ease with which it can be removed relate directly to how good the lymphatic cancer prognosis provided is, and suffering to the patient during surgery is minimised.
Once a diagnosis of lymphoma has been made it is integral that the patient understands their treatment options. In some cases surgery may carry a significant risk of leaving the patient with severe disabilities, and so it is the responsibility of the medical professional to inform their patients of such risks. If surgery is decided upon it may not be undertaken with sufficient care. Lymphatic cancer surgery is complicated, and complications such as respiratory conditions or infections may be contracted during operations. If these complications could have been avoided with reasonable care, a claim for compensation may be made.
Finally, there have been cases where patients who did not actually have lymphatic cancer were diagnosed with it. These patients may undergo the psychological stress of believing themselves a cancer patient – even, as has been known to occur, pre-operation tests and treatment which might include surgery – when in fact they had contracted something far less severe. These cases might also warrant a claim due to the distress and time off work and consequent financial losses suffered through clinical negligence.
Our solicitors can provide expert claim advice in a FREE consultation if you are unsure; simply call 01204 521 133.
How Much Will I Get?
Everyon’e’s claim is entirely different, so it is difficult to advise accurately. However, our Medical Negligence Compensation Calculator may provide a rough estimate of what you may receive. These estimates are based on your injuries and also other factors, such as psychological problems and missed time at work.
‘No Win No Fee’
At Asons Solicitors, we have taken the risk out of making a claim for all of our clients, which is why over 98% of our claims are No Win No Fee. This way, we can allow everyone access to justice, regardless of their financial position. If you choose to make a claim with us, there are no upfront fees or unexpected costs, as we take on the risk for you.
More on ‘No Win, No Fee’ here.
Our Lymphoma Misdiagnosis Claims Experience
Errors arising from cases of lymphoma misdiagnosis hold dire repercussions for patients. At Asons, we understand the detrimental effect it has on victims as the cancer worsens while they mistakenly assume they have a less severe condition. This is coupled with the psychological stress from being let down by a trusted medical professional. We know that victims and their families are often hesitant to come forward with their claims. As medical negligence solicitors, it’s our job to do everything within our means to make the process as straightforward as possible.
Lymphoma Misdiagnosis Resources
Our guide, How Will A Cancer Misdiagnosis Change Your Life? was written to provide information and guidance on how to deal with a cancer misdiagnosis, as well as highlighting the occurrence rates of these errors due to an overworked NHS.
As with any claim, you may be worried about the potential costs of pursuing your clinical negligence case. To address this common concern, we have devised a variety of options to help you. We help acquire all the assistance that you are entitled to, whilst managing resulting compensation in the most beneficial way possible. We must remind you to be quick, however, as there are time limits in place for making claims of this kind.
We deal with medical negligence claims on a regular basis. If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of substandard treatment, you may be eligible to make a claim. Our Medical Negligence Solicitors will work to gather all of the appropriate paperwork and documentation, whilst speaking to the parties involved, substantiating your medical claim.