Oakwood Solicitors

Breast Cancer

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What is Breast Cancer?

  • Breast Cancer is a type of cancer that affects the tissue around the breast.
  • It most commonly affects women, but men can develop it as well.
  • It usually affects the area around the nipple or the glands that make milk.
  • It is the most common cancer that affects women in the world and 1 out of 8 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime.
  • 80% of all cases are for women over the age of 50. 50,000 are diagnosed each year with 11,000 women dying each year from it.
  • It can spread from the breast area to the lymph nodes around the arm bit. This can then spread to all organs in the body.

Breast Cancer


What are the symptoms?

The first possible sign of cancer is a lump on the breast area or in the armpit. Most lumps are not cancerous, but it is always advisable to not take any chances and get it checked out.

The things to check are:

  • A new lump/thickened tissues that was/were not there previously.
  • Changes in size – one or both breasts.
  • Change in the appearance of the nipple.
  • Rash around the nipple.
  • Bloody discharge – from the nipples.
  • Lumps or swellings in the armpits.
  • Dimpling of the skin on your breasts.


It is impossible to say why breast cancer commences in a person, but there are certain risk factors:

  • Age – there is more of a chance as you get older to get breast cancer
  • Genetics – a close relative such as mother or sister who has had the disease often increases the risk for other family members. The key markers of BRAC1 and BRAC2 can we used to detect the risk
  • Ethnicity – white women are at more risk
  • Thick breast tissue – more glandular tissue can increase the risk
  • Oestrogen – an increase can increase the growth of breast tissue
  • Menstruation – starting the menopause later in life
  • Alcohol and smoking
  • Inactivity
  • Overweight

Women who breastfeed can lower their risk of developing cancer.


Checks should be made regularly, and if any changes are noticed then you should seek immediate treatment from a GP to check these out.

Stages of Diagnosis

  • Visit the GP – The GP will feel the breast and the surrounding areas to check whether your suspicions are correct. They may then decide to send you for further tests or advise accordingly.
  • Referral to the hospital – to have a mammogram or ultrasound. The tests will then be able to see whether the lump is solid or liquid. If cancer is suspected or the GP is concerned, then this referral should be on an urgent two-week wait referral.
  • Biopsy – a small part of the lump is removed and then sent to a laboratory for tests. Cancerous cells will then be identified.
  • CT/MRI Scan – once the cancer has been diagnosed, a scan is then needed to see how far the cancer has spread

Breast Cancer


Stages of Cancer

There are four stages of cancer, and dependent upon when the cancer is diagnosed determines the treatment required and the success rate of such treatment. Ie – stage 4 is terminal and has probably spread to other organs of the body. Treatment is unlikely to assist other than for therapeutic reasons.

Cancer is staged using a three-stage TNM process. TNM stands for ‘Tumour, Node and Metastases’, which is a standard used to describe breast cancer stages:

  • T = the size of the tumour.
  • N = whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
  • M = whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.


There are a variety of treatments available, which will depend on the stage and grade of the cancer, health and menopause.

  • Surgery – a mastectomy will be done to remove the breast tissue. This may then be followed by reconstructive surgery. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy will then be done to prevent any further cells from coming back.
  • Drug treatment – tamoxifen, anastrozole and raloxifen are the most effective for women are at high risk of developing breast cancer. They do have side effects such as hot flushes, nausea, leg cramps and tiredness.
  • Chemotherapy – courses can be used to kill the cancer cells
  • Radiotherapy – courses can be used to kill the cancer cells
  • Biological Therapy – these therapies target certain factors to stop the growth of cancer. Examples of these are Trastuzumab which is a new therapy and at present can have side effects affecting the heart.

Breast Cancer


How Do I Make a Claim?

Immediate diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer is paramount to the success of the treatment. Early intervention can result in complete resolution of symptoms. however, delays can be devastating. The longer you have been deprived of treatment, the more likely the cancer could spread and more invasive procedures/treatment will be required.

If you consider that there was a delay in diagnosis or implementing treatment,  you may be eligible to bring about a claim for compensation. Our specialist team are on hand to discuss your treatment with you and advise further as to what your choices are. Our team will be able to give you free advice on the prospects of your case and whether you would be eligible to make a claim.

You have three years to bring about a claim of this nature. This time period runs from either the date the negligence occurred, or the date you ought to have been aware that negligence may have occurred. Do not delay! Get in touch as soon as possible.

What Can I Claim For?

There are two forms of compensation that Oakwood Solicitors will pursue on your behalf:

  • General Damages – this is a claim for compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured, and that you are likely to endure moving forward. There will, if appropriate, be a claim for compensation for any psychological effects the negligence has had upon you.
  • Special Damages – This is a claim for all out-of-pocket expenses you have suffered as a result of the negligence. This may include such things as loss of earnings, cost of medication and treatments (both past and in the future), the cost of aids or adaptations to the home, childcare costs, care costs for yourself and much more. This list is not exhaustive and is very case specific.

How Much is My Claim Worth?

The amount of damages awarded is very case specific and is dependent upon the extent of pain and suffering and the expenses incurred.

Typical examples of claims involving breast cancer have settled as follows:

  • £121,000 circa for a fifteen-month delay in diagnosing breast cancer. The Claimant, in this case, underwent a mastectomy, axillary node clearance and radiotherapy. She also suffered from lymphedema.
  • £160,000 circa for an eighteen-month delay in diagnosing breast cancer. The Claimant, in this case, underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy and suffered from a severe psychological injury. The Claimant’s life expectancy was reduced by twelve years.

If you consider that you have suffered as a result of negligence, speak to one of our specialist team who will be able to advise further regards to the likely value of your claim.



Who can bring about a claim?

The victim of the alleged negligence can bring about a claim for both general and special damages as listed above.

It can sadly be the case that the victim of the negligence has passed away. In such circumstances, the executor of the estate or the surviving dependents can bring about a claim on behalf of the deceased loved one.

We have a wealth of experience in handling claims of this nature, and our compassionate and professional team will be able to talk you through every stage of the claims process.

How Long Will My Case Take to Run?

Clinical negligence cases can take over eighteen months to run, as we have to obtain copies of your GP and medical records before obtaining a report from an independent medical professional. We will provide you with regular updates on the progress of your case to ensure that you are kept up to speed.

Why use Oakwood Solicitors to make your Clinical Negligence Case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of Clinical Negligence.

We want to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon, medical terms that they don’t understand and to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

How is My Case Funded?

The majority of Clinical Negligence cases are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a ‘no-win, no-fee’ agreement. This means that there will be nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay if the claim has been lost.

If you are successful in your claim, a deduction of 25% of damages will be taken to cover the success fee and the shortfall in legal fees.

It may also be the case that an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy will be obtained to cover the costs of expensive medical reports and investigations. If an ATE insurance policy has to be obtained, the cost of the same will be discussed with you at the appropriate point.

The cost of the ATE insurance policy is again taken from your damages and only payable if you are successful with your claim.

Charities/Useful Websites:

Breast Cancer Haven
Breast Cancer Support
Breast Cancer UK
Pink Ribbon Foundation


If you have or are being affected by a breast cancer diagnosis, get in touch today for a free initial consultation in complete confidence. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Meet the Head of Department

Carol Cook

Head of Department - Medical Negligence

0113 200 9780

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