A recent study carried out by Bowel Cancer UK has revealed that over 80% of NHS Hospitals are failing to test bowel cancer patients for Lynch syndrome, a genetic condition which can increase the chances of an individual developing bowel cancer.

Guidelines provided by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which all medical professionals are required to follow, recommends that all bowel cancer patients are tested for Lynch syndrome at the time of diagnosis. Despite this, research carried out by Bowel Cancer UK found that 83% of NHS Hospitals in the United Kingdom were not carrying out that screening.

Lynch syndrome is hereditary. It is caused by an alteration in a “mismatch repair” gene. It does not cause any symptoms but does increase the risk that an individual will develop bowel cancer at some time in their lifetime by 80%. It can also increase the risk of developing other cancers such as ovarian, stomach and womb cancer. If there is a family history of relatives developing cancer before the age of 50, it is possible that there is a family history of Lynch syndrome. Those diagnosed with Lynch syndrome are screened every two years.

If an individual is diagnosed with Lynch syndrome there is a 50% chance that any child of that individual may also have the condition. The guidelines provided by NICE are there to protect those suffering from Lynch syndrome and to offer regular screening to diagnose cancer at the earliest possible time to increase the chances of treating it successfully. From the information provided by Bowel Cancer UK it appears that many hospitals are not following that guidance and as such are potentially delaying the diagnosis of cancer and putting patients at risk.

When hospitals were asked to account for the failure to test all bowel cancer patients for Lynch syndrome the most common reasons were a lack of funding and a lack of staff resources. In the eyes of the law these are not valid reasons for not following medical guidance. Where there are clear guidelines in place regarding testing for Lynch syndrome and where those have not followed the hospital may have been negligent.

If you have suffered a delay in the diagnosis of cancer due to a failure by a hospital to test for Lynch syndrome, or for another reason, you may be entitled to compensation. At Jordans solicitors we have a specialised medical negligence team with the experience and expertise to advise you in relation to a potential claim for compensation arising from a late diagnosis of cancer.


If you would like advice in relation to a late diagnosis of cancer or other injury or loss caused as a result of the negligence of medical professionals please contact our medical negligence team on 01924 457 171 or request a callback.

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