Be alert to cancer signs to avoid legal issues

GPs should remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of malignancy in order to avoid legal complications, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) has warned.

A quarter of all settled medical claims over the past five years related to delay or failure to diagnose malignancy, according to the MDU.

The advice comes after the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) published a list of eight early signs and symptoms indicative of cancer.

Dr Jacqui Phillips, MDU medico-legal adviser, said:  ‘Symptoms and signs of cancer can be difficult to distinguish from other less serious conditions so this study is helpful in identifying the key symptoms GPs should look out for.

‘In the MDU’s experience, a delayed or missed diagnosis is the commonest reason for a claim to be settled against our GP members and cancers are the most frequent condition missed.’

Breast, bowel and skin cancer were most commonly missed among these conditions.

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