What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?
The most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a painless swelling which develops in the lower neck.
Other thyroid cancer symptoms will only tend to occur after the condition has reached an advanced stage, making it imperative that any lumps are investigated and receive prompt and proper diagnosis or appropriate medical action (i.e referral to a specialist).
These latter symptoms may include:
- unexplained hoarseness
- difficulty breathing and swallowing
- pain in the neck
How Should Thyroid Cancer Be Diagnosed?
If symptoms are experienced which may be characteristic of thyroid cancer, the GP should examine your neck and ask about any associated symptoms you may be experiencing, such as unexplained hoarseness.
Thyroid cancer should be accurately diagnosed following a thyroid function test, which measures the balance of certain hormones in the blood which the thyroid is responsible for controlling, and a procedure known as fine-needle aspiration cytology, which removes a small sample of cells from the swelling with a needle. After either of these tests have been performed, a medical professional should be able to diagnose the presence of thyroid cancer. Further testing may be undertaken to diagnose the exact type of cancer, which might include an ultrasound test or CT or MRI scan to examine internal organs.
It is imperative that thyroid cancer is diagnosed as soon as possible for the best possible thyroid cancer prognosis to be reached, as the disease can develop quickly and, in the worst case, become incurable.
How Should Thyroid Cancer Be Treated?
When a diagnosis is reached, a patient should be put under the care of a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) to provide the thyroid cancer treatment they need. The treatment recommended will vary dependent on the type of thyroid cancer, the grade of that cancer, and whether the care team feels a cure is realistically achievable based on the present development of the disease.
Most types of thyroid cancer that aren’t anaplastic (the most aggressive and rarest form which typically afflicts the elderly) have a decent chance of success in treatment. These types are known as differentiated thyroid cancers (DTCs) and will usually be addressed using a combination of surgery to remove the thyroid gland (known as a thyroidectomy) and general cancer treatment in the form of radiotherapy, an administered dose of radioactive iodine designed to destroy remaining cancer cells.
Following successful surgery for thyroid cancer, replacement hormone therapy may be required to replace hormones lost by the effects of the cancer upon the thyroid gland.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer sadly does not usually have a chance of being cured as it is a malignant cancer, and in many cases has spread to other organs by the time it is diagnosed. GPs still have a responsibility to provide treatment to mitigate symptoms and prolong quality of life, however, which may include radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
How Do I Know If I Have A Thyroid Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim?
If a GP or specialist fails to diagnose or correctly treat a thyroid tumour, causing undue suffering to the patient, this may warrant a claim for clinical negligence compensation. There are several circumstances which might lead to a clinical negligence claim as a result of a thyroid tumour:
Firstly, there may be a delay in diagnosis of the 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 thyroid cancers left unchecked. Delays are particularly significant when dealing with benign tumours (associated with differentiated thyroid cancers) as they are more likely to be curable and often the size of the tumour and the ease with which it can be removed relate directly to how good the thyroid cancer prognosis provided is.
Once a diagnosis of thyroid cancer has been made it is integral that the patient understands their treatment options. In some cases thyroid surgery may carry a significant risk of leaving the patient with disabilities and complications, 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. Thyroid surgery is very complicated, and complications such as infection or neck damage may occur during the operation. 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 thyroid 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 Thyroid Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims Experience
Errors arising from cases of thyroid cancer 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.
Thyroid Cancer 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.