Delayed Cancer Diagnosis and Medical Malpractice

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, nearly 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer. The timing of a cancer diagnosis can make the difference between detecting the cancer when it is still possible to treat it effectively or surgically remove it, and when it is too late to do so. With many types of cancer, early detection is the key to treating or removing it and reducing the likelihood of it returning or spreading. If cancer is not diagnosed in time, or is misdiagnosed, it can lead to serious life-long implications or death, and can have a devastating impact on patients and their families. Depending on the circumstances, such a misdiagnosis can be grounds to file a medical malpractice claim.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers

Some commonly misdiagnosed cancers include:

  • Lung cancer;
  • Breast cancer;
  • Pancreatic cancer;
  • Colorectal cancer; and
  • Cervical cancer.

How Might Delayed Diagnosis Occur?

Imagine, for instance, a patient visits their doctor complaining of serious digestive issues, including diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, and blood in their stool. The doctor eventually diagnoses the patient with irritable bowel syndrome and puts them on medication to control the condition. However, it turns out that the patient actually has colorectal cancer.

This could have been a situation in which the cancer could have been highly treatable if caught early. However, the doctor failed to consider that the patient may be suffering from cancer or failed to properly recognize the patient’s risk factors (family history of cancer), screen the patient for cancer (e.g. perform a colonoscopy), recognize the symptoms of cancer, order appropriate tests, and diagnose the cancer. In the intervening period, the patient’s cancer continued to develop, and got to the point where it was no longer easily treatable or was not treatable at all (e.g. it got to stage 4 cancer or metastasized).

The same goes for other types of cancer, such as breast cancer. In certain circumstances, if a doctor does not recognize the signs and symptoms of breast cancer (such as a breast lump), does not order follow-up tests such as a screening mammogram, breast ultrasound or breast biopsy, they may miss the crucial diagnosis of breast cancer.

The breast cancer patient may then have to face invasive medical procedures (e.g. a mastectomy/colectomy), radiation, chemotherapy, and months of pain and suffering. They may be unable to work, unable to care for their family, and unable to enjoy life as they previously did. They may ultimately succumb to their illness. All of this may be grounds to file a medical malpractice claim.

How to Establish Medical Malpractice in Situations Involving Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

Medical malpractice claims can be made by patients or families of patients who are injured or otherwise negatively affected by a doctor, nurse, hospital worker, or other healthcare professional.

In general terms, in situations involving a misdiagnosis of cancer or a missed diagnosis of cancer, the person bringing the claim (i.e. the plaintiff) must satisfy the court that:

  • The conduct of the medical professional in question fell below the standard of care that the patient was entitled to receive;
  • That the negligence of the medical professional caused or contributed to the injury that was sustained (and ‘but for’ the negligence, the person would most likely not have sustained the injury for which compensation is sought); and
  • The damages

In medical misdiagnosis cases, medical negligence means that a healthcare provider did not do something they ought to have done, as measured against the expected, reasonable treatment which should have been provided under the circumstances.

How can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help? 

Medical malpractice claims can be lengthy and complex. Coping with the impact of a serious medical error can be extremely emotional and stressful as victims and their family members struggle to manage with their new reality.

At Sommers, Roth & Elmaleh, our compassionate and highly knowledgeable Toronto medical malpractice lawyers use our experience and knowledge to assist clients across Canada. We are committed to getting our injured clients and their loved ones the legal assistance and guidance that they need following a medical error, including misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose cancer.  We work hard to secure financial assistance for the future of each of our clients. We take cases on a contingency basis only, ensuring that families can obtain the help they need, at the time that they need it most.

We are proud of the strong relationships we build with each of their clients, and our role as a support system for them. We keep the lines of communication at all times, answering questions regularly, and keeping clients apprised of the status of their claim and the progress made during the stages of litigation. In addition to handling the strictly legal aspects of the claim, we also handle all necessary paperwork, communication with medical professionals, and other relevant steps. Our goal is to make the process as stress-free for our clients as possible.

At Sommers Roth & Elmaleh we have been helping patients and families whose lives have been impacted by medical malpractice for more than 40 years. We have assisted clients in all over Ontario and from all across Canada, including Newfoundland, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Call us at 1-844-777-7372 or contact us online for a free consultation.


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    If you have been affected by medical malpractice anywhere in Canada contact us for a free consultation.
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    A lawyer from Sommers Roth & Elmaleh will be in touch with you as soon as possible. Please note that no lawyer-client, advisory, or fiduciary relationship is created by your inquiry. All information provided is confidential.

    The above information is not legal advice. Past results of cases and recoveries by our medical malpractice lawyers against hospitals, doctors, midwives, nurses and other healthcare professionals are not necessarily indicative of future results. The amounts recovered and other litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts in individual cases.

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    Hilt this Tamrate
    Hilt this Tamrate
    23 May 2023
    Dear Mr Hilik Y. And Jeremy Syrtash. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to you and Sommers Roth and Elmaleh Professional Corporation staff for all you have done with respect to my wife case. My wife was a victim of Medical Malpractice after giving birth to our daughter. She become legally disabled both physically and mentally. The entire family devastated emotionally as my wife struggle to cope with the new reality. The case of Medical Malpractice is quite often a complex case to prove. However, due to your strong commitment, knowledge and dedication combined with strong professionalism the case was successfully won after a long arduous fight. The victory would not have been possible without your dedication and thorough research in the implementation of the standards of the Sommers Roth and Elmaleh Professional Corporation. Justice prevailed at last which in turn allowed my vulnerable wife to feel more optimistic about her future and that of our family. The positive outcome of this case has changed our lives forever. It would not have been possible without the excellent representation of Sommers Roth and Elmaleh Professional Corporation and its legal counsel. My wife and I will be deeply grateful for the successful outcome of this case for many years to come. Solomon Regassa
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    4 January 2023
    I would like to take this opportunity to express my most sincere gratitude towards Sommers Roth & Elmaleh, from the day I met with Hilik and his team, they been not only highly knowledgeable but also extremely sensitive towards me and my family, providing us with the best legal service possible. It goes without saying, that I strongly recommend them to anyone looking for a charismatic, quality and result oriented legal team.
    10 October 2022
    We deeply appreciate Sommers Roth & Elmaleh for their professional skills and hard-working through the whole process of my son’s case. I still remember the first conversation we took with Mr. Hilik Y Elmaleh in his lawyer office sixteen years ago. From then on, your dedication, patience, understanding and continuous communications kept our encouragements and expectations for my son and our family. With the case settled down, my son can receive the full financial support, continuous therapies and finishing his university course. It is no doubt to say that Sommers Roth & Elmaleh not only changed our family’s life but also did contributions to the society, because my son can grow in a happy and health way in his teenage and receive university education from this autumn. Again we hereby strongly recommend the services provided by the lawyer office Sommers Roth & Elmaleh to those who needs the similar legal consultation and support. Even the door of your family was closed by some unfortunate events, there are more windows can be opened. The lawyers in Sommers Roth & Elmaleh are exactly the people who can open the windows and convert the sun-shine again to your family: Mr. Hilik Y Elmaleh,Mr.Jeremy Syrtash, Miss Fanny Peter ...etc. Finally, we express the deepest gratitude and appreciation again to Mr. Hilik Y Elmaleh and lawyer office Sommers Roth & Elmaleh. Wish a brighter future of Sommers Roth & Elmaleh !
    Meggie Zhangkrk6hdjybfjt
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    6 October 2022
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    Tony Zhou
    Tony Zhou
    29 September 2022
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    18 July 2022
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank our daughter's "Dream Team", Hilik Elmaleh, Jeremy Syrtash and Fanny Peter. The compassion, dedication, knowledge, experience and their recognition in the legal community have ensured us that we were on the right track working with the firm Sommers, Roth and Elmaleh. Words cannot express enough my gratitude! I will be forever grateful!
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    6 June 2022
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    Arden Melnechuk
    Arden Melnechuk
    1 December 2021
    I was in a serious horse accident where the horse was injured and should never have been ridden. The owner of the horse was aware that the horse had chronic arthritis issues and the veterinarians at Guelph had told him the horse could decompensate at any time and could cause serious injury whether being led or ridden and could never be jumped again. The horse had been shown at the grand prix level and the owner had payed quite a bit of money for him. After consulting with several lawyers and having one that did represent me at the discoveries who later quit, Jeremy Syrtash took on the case and followed through with guelph university. That is how we found out that the vets had recommended the above. Without Jeremy's efforts and follow through the case would never have continued on. Because of these efforts the case was successful. Thank you so much Jeremy. You are a dedicated, thorough, excellent lawyer and it's been a pleasure to have you as my lawyer!!
    Megha Sharma
    Megha Sharma
    16 April 2021
    Mr. Elmaleh and his team are very professional and experts in their field. Recommend to everyone who has suffered medical negligence.
    Nick & Whitney Maraschiello-Basnett
    Nick & Whitney Maraschiello-Basnett
    18 July 2020
    We want to start by saying how much we highly recommend Sommers, Roth and Elmaleh for anyone who is dealing with a situation involving medical malpractice. Hilik and the entire firm have allowed us the opportunity to give our little girl the life she deserves. There is no taking back what happened, but they truly turned such a tragedy into a victory. They fought long and hard, and put forth so much time and effort into making the individuals accountable and responsible for the mistakes that were made. They always showed true compassion for our family, guided us with ease, and supported us through every step. This was such a life changing experience with the firm, and honestly we will always be forever grateful and thankful.