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Early detection of cancer is critical for obtaining a good prognosis and there are a number of cancers that can be tested for even before symptoms appear. Even so, claims for medical negligence commonly arise from a misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosis, often due to a failure to test or a failure to follow up abnormal test results. The legal challenge is trying to establish that the misdiagnosis or the delay in diagnosis resulted in a worse outcome, such as a reduction in life expectancy or fewer available treatment options.

According to statistics on the Cancer Council website:

  • About 128,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year.
  • 1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.

The five most common cancers in Australia, which together account for more than 60% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia, are cancer of the:

    • Prostate – the most common cancer in Australian men (apart from common skin cancers). There are 20,000 new cases every year.
    • Bowel – the second most common cancer affecting people in Australia. There are 17,000 new cases every year.
    • Skin cells (Melanoma) – the third most common cancer in men and women. It accounts for 10% of all cancer diagnoses. Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of melanoma in the world. More than 12,500 people are diagnosed with melanoma in Australia every year.
    • Breast – the most common cancer in Australian women, representing 28% of all cancers in women.   About 14,000 women are diagnosed each year.
    • Lung – the most common cancer in Australian men (apart from common skin cancers). There are about 20,000 new cases in Australia every year.

Once cancer has been detected, further tests are required to see its extent and whether it has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized). This is known as staging and may involve bone, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerised tomography (CT) scans. How can we help? If you are looking for information or help in relation to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, we can help you navigate the process.   Our health law team is highly respected in the area, with specialist knowledge accumulated over 25 years. Our team can assist you by providing expert advice and legal support regarding your options. Contact us today on (02) 4929 3995 or or visit *The material provided in our information sheets is for general knowledge only and is not a substitute for independent legal advice. For further information about the issues affecting you, please contact one of our experienced and professional lawyers for expert advice.

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