There was a delay in the diagnosis of my cancer. What do I do?

Published By: jessicamor

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Discovering that you or a loved one has cancer is deeply distressing and will inevitably leave you with a whirlwind of questions and worries. One of those worries should not be that your doctor delayed the diagnosis of your cancer, but the unfortunate reality is that that does happen. In this blog post, we extend a helping hand, offering empathetic guidance on how to navigate the challenges that arise when you or a loved one faces the unsettling reality of a delayed cancer diagnosis. Please keep in mind that this article is meant to provide support and information, not legal advice. For personalized assistance tailored to your unique circumstances, we strongly encourage you to reach out to a lawyer who can offer the guidance and support you need during this trying time. Your well-being is our priority.

1. Seek Medical Attention and a Second Opinion

Your health should always be your top priority. If you suspect that there was a delayed diagnosis of your cancer, the first step is to consult with your healthcare provider. Seek a second opinion from another medical professional to confirm your diagnosis and discuss potential treatment options. This not only safeguards your health but also provides critical medical evidence that may be essential in any legal proceedings.

2. Document Everything

Gathering detailed documentation is crucial in any potential legal case. Keep thorough records of all medical visits, consultations, test results, and communications with healthcare providers. Be sure to request copies of your medical records, as these documents will play a significant role in assessing whether there was a delay in your diagnosis.

3. Consult with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

After addressing your immediate health concerns, consult with a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice cases. They can help you determine whether there are grounds for a legal claim. It’s essential to seek a lawyer with experience in medical malpractice cases, as they will understand the complexities of these claims.

4. Understand the Legal Elements

In a delayed cancer diagnosis case, there are 4 legal elements that must be established to make a successful claim:

Duty of Care: The plaintiff must prove that the healthcare provider owed him or her a duty of care. In medical negligence cases, this is easy to make out, as a doctor’s duty of care to a patient arises upon the formation of the doctor-patient relationship.

Breach of Standard of Care: The plaintiff must prove the healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care, resulting in a delayed diagnosis. Put more simply, the plaintiff has the show that the doctor’s care (or lack thereof) departed from what a reasonable doctor of the same class and community would do.

Causation: The plaintiff must prove that the healthcare provider’s failure to meet the standard of care caused harm or injury. It is not enough that a doctor behaves in a way that is inconsistent with the standard of care. That negligent behaviour must have caused some harm to the plaintiff. In a delayed diagnosis case, the harm may be metastasized cancer, invasive treatment, and/or death.

Damages: The plaintiff must prove the extent of harm, pain, suffering, and financial losses incurred as a result of the delayed diagnosis and resultant harm.

Your lawyer will assess your case and work to establish these elements to build a strong legal argument.

5. Statute of Limitations

Be aware of the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in your jurisdiction. This is the timeframe within which you must file your claim. In Ontario, you have two years from the date you discover the harm to bring a claim against your healthcare provider. Missing this deadline can result in the dismissal of your case. Always consult with a lawyer to ensure you act in time.

6. Settlement or Litigation

Your lawyer will guide you through the process, which may lead to a settlement with the healthcare provider’s insurance company or a medical facility, or it may involve pursuing a lawsuit. The decision to settle or litigate will depend on the strength of your case and your goals.


Dealing with a delayed cancer diagnosis is undoubtedly challenging, but you need know that you have legal rights and options. Seeking proper medical care and consulting with an experienced lawyer can help you navigate this difficult situation. Remember that every case is unique, and the information provided in this article is meant to serve as a general guide. For personalized legal advice, consider reaching out to our law firm. Your health and well-being should remain your top priority, whereas protecting your legal rights and providing a path to justice can be ours.

We’re ready to take on the challenge.

From our office in downtown Barrie, we provide legal services to clients across Ontario. We are skilled trial lawyers practicing in the area of civil litigation and are available to assist you with your case.

Our initial consultation, whether it be in person or by Zoom, is always free. Call our office to schedule a meeting.

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