Late diagnosis of cancer

You can apply for compensation if you believe you have sustained an injury as a result of the late diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Print Bokmål | Nynorsk | 11. October 2019

If you are entitled to compensation, it will primarily be the financial loss you have incurred as a result of the delay that will be covered.

Late diagnosis

Every year, NPE receives many applications where the patient complains that a cancer diagnosis was made too late.  In these cases, we must first determine whether the cancer diagnosis should actually have been made earlier.

With these cases, we will not consider what could objectively have been possible, but whether the diagnosis should actually have been made earlier. Should the doctor have referred the case and carried out investigations sooner? Should they have realised that cancer was present on the basis of X-rays or tissue samples? Should they have carried out any further investigations that would have revealed that cancer was present?

If we conclude that the cancer diagnosis should have been made earlier, we must determine when the diagnosis should have been made. We must also determine how important the delay was in the cancer treatment and the development of the disease.

What was due to the cancer itself and what was due to the late diagnosis?

What can be challenging in many of these cases is to determine the significance of the cancer itself and the significance of the delay to the treatment and further development of the disease. We must then consider what is most likely. In some cases, even if the diagnosis should have been made earlier, the delay will not have had any bearing on the treatment that the patient received. If the diagnosis had been made earlier, the treatment would have been the same in any case.

In other cases, the delay might have meant that the patient had to undergo more extensive treatment, such as more extensive surgery, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. If this has meant that the patient has incurred, or will incur, a financial loss, it will trigger the right to compensation.

How important was the delay?

In many cases where a cancer diagnosis is delayed, it is important to consider whether the delay has had an impact on the development of the disease. Has the delay led to a deterioration in the prognosis?

If the patient has irreversible cancer, we must also decide whether this is probably due to the delay in the cancer diagnosis, or whether the situation would probably have been the same anyway.


Cancer can be a life-threatening illness that can develop rapidly. In some cases, the patient dies while we are considering their application, or the patient is already dead when we receive the application. In such cases, it will be the survivors (heirs) who submit the compensation claim to us, or who become party to the claim after the patient has died.

See also the information on who can apply for compensation via the link in the box on the right. You can also read about specific, anonymised cases in our examples.